LSU's Tyler Moore belted a pinch-hit double in the bottom of the eighth to end a stalemate between two of college baseball's finest pitchers.
Moore drove in JaCoby Jones, who tripled off Oklahoma's ace Jonathan Gray to plate the deciding run in LSU's 2-0 victory over Oklahoma (43-20) in Game 1 of the NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional Friday night.
"What a tremendous college baseball game," OU coach Sunny Golloway said. "We tip our cap to Nola and the way he threw the baseball."
LSU (56-9) ended Oklahoma's eight-game winning streak with a complete-game shutout performance from Aaron Nola (12-0). Nola allowed just two hits and struck out six.
"We kept a close eye on the pitch count and it looked like Nola was winning the pitch count contest throughout the game and that was getting to be a bit of a concern. Really what it came down to was a man on third with less than two outs. They got the hit when they needed to right there with a man at third -- just trying to hit a fly ball, which is what we needed to do earlier in the game in a pitching duel."
Gray (10-3) struck out nine and allowed just three hits before Jones became the first Tiger to reach scoring position after drilling an 0-2 pitch beyond a diving Max White in right center.
Gray threw 129 pitches in a complete-game victory over Coastal Carolina one week ago in the NCAA Blacksburg Regional. Gray entered the eighth inning with his pitch count at 110 and struck out LSU catcher Ty Ross on three pitches. But Jones crushed his third pitch in the next at-bat, sending Golloway to the mound.
"It was just real simple. It was, ‘Let's not give them anything to hit. Let's go for the strikeout, expand the zone if we can a little bit.' He made a great first pitch and just lost the second pitch."
Oklahoma threatened in the top of the fifth, but couldn't get its baserunner across home plate. Matt Oberste led off the inning with a first-pitch, stand-up double and was moved to third on Hector Lorenzana's sacrifice bunt. Nola struck out Anthony Hermelyn and Colt Bickerstaff could not beat out a high-chopper to second baseman Jones with his head-first slide into the bag.
"We're not going to fault "Big Jon" – not after what he's done for us all year. We teach our guys we take the good with the bad and vice versa. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you come back tomorrow and you play hard, so that's exactly what we plan on doing."
Oklahoma and LSU meet again in Game 2 of the best-of-three Super Regional Saturday at 6 p.m. (CST).