By BRETT MARTEL, Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU hit tying home runs in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings, prolonging a thrilling NCAA tournament game Friday with upstart Stony Brook long enough for a downpour to postpone it until Saturday morning.
After Mason Katz's blast to left off Stony Brook reliever Jasvir Rakkar tied it at 4, LSU nearly won it when the next batter, Raph Rhymes, pulled a shot down the line that sailed over the left-field wall, but was ruled foul.
The umpire's call, which appeared on TV replays to be correct, angered LSU fans who were starting to celebrate what they thought was a second-straight extra-inning victory in the NCAA tournament, five days after the Tigers had won their regional with a 10-inning triumph over Oregon State.
Instead, Rakkar retired the side without further damage and the game went to the 12th just as a downpour swept in, delaying a game that was already four hours old.
"This is a credit to both teams and how badly they want this; how mentally tough both teams are," Stony Brook coach Matt Senk said.
Sal Intagliata's two-run homer in the second gave the Seawolves (50-12) a lead that lasted until Jacoby Jones' solo homer off reliever James Campbell tied it at 2 in the bottom of the ninth.
Left fielder Steve Goldstein could have gone down in Stony Brook lore as the player who hit the game-winning homer against LSU (46-16) when he clubbed a towering shot over the right-field wall in the top of the 10th. But Goldstein overran Tyler Moore's two-out foul pop-up in the bottom of the inning, giving Moore the extra swing he needed to rip a tying homer into the right-field stands on a 3-2 count.
"I was just trying to stay alive," Moore said. "Fortunately, I got another chance to keep hitting."
Goldstein, who had to run a long way for the ball and into the bull pen area that sits in foul ground, said he lost his bearings while stumbling over the mound.
Campbell, who had yielded one previous home run all season, suddenly had been tagged for two untimely round-trippers in as many innings.
Tigers fans were in a frenzy, certain that LSU was on the verge of improving to 9-0 in NCAA tournament home games since moving into their current 10,000-seat college baseball cathedral in 2009. Instead, resilient Stony Brook regained the lead in the top of the 11th, when Travis Jankowski, who had three hits to that point, tagged up aggressively on a shallow fly to center and narrowly beat Mason Katz's throw to make it 4-3.
Whatever power Katz lacked behind his throw, he made up for it at the plate in the bottom of the inning, clobbering Rakkar's 2-0 pitch over the left-field wall for the Tigers' third solo homer in three innings.
"We're not a huge power-hitting team. Today, we were able to pop a few out," Katz said. "We have a group of guys that, in any situation, no one gives up. We always think we're coming back, no matter what."
After the rain delay had lasted a little more than an hour, the tarp briefly came off the field. Then another strong thunder storm swept through, and by the time that let up, NCAA representatives Mike Knight and Wilbert Ellis decided that with continuing light rain and a drenched field, it was better to wait until the following day to resume play. The delay lasted 2:34 in all and the coaches were both in favor of a postponement over having their players hang around longer and possibly play late into the night.
The opener of the best-of-three super regional will resumes at 10:05 a.m., with Game 2 starting 50 minutes after the first ends.
Although Stony Brook had never been to a super regional since moving to Division I in 2000, the Seawolves out played six-time national champion LSU for most of the game.
After Intagliata made it 2-0 off of LSU starter Aaron Nola, the Seawolves threatened constantly, pounding out 10 hits — but stranding 11 runners — in their first seven at-bats as LSU stayed close by constantly getting out of jams.
LSU had only two hits off of Stony Brook starter Brandon McNitt through seven innings, but cut its deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh. The Tigers were helped by a throwing error by shortstop Cole Peragine, which put Rhymes on second base, and a wild pitch by McNitt, which advanced Rhymes to third with no outs. Rhymes then came home on Ty Ross' groundout.
"Stony Brook was really outplaying us for the majority of the game," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "We're pretty fortunate to be sitting here with a tie ballgame and (being) able to play tomorrow."
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