By BRETT MARTEL, Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Mason Katz singled home Tyler Moore in the bottom of the 12th inning, lifting LSU to a 5-4 victory over Stony Brook on Saturday morning in a thrilling NCAA tournament game that took two days to complete.
The fact that Katz and Moore, who led off with a single, both had key hits in the winning rally was fitting. They each had crucial home runs Friday as LSU (47-16) prolonged their wild super regional opener with the Seawolves (50-13) with game-tying homers in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings.
"I wanted to get something early in the count to hit," said Katz, who hit the first pitch he saw from pitcher Frankie Vanderka. "That kid has a great curveball. He threw me a curveball and left it up in the zone and that was it."
A downpour before the start of the 12th forced a postponement until Saturday, with Game 2 of the best-of-three series to start shortly after.
LSU projected Game 2 starter and staff ace Kevin Gausman (12-1) started the 12th and retired the side in order, leaving him fresh to start Game 2 — as coach Paul Mainieri told ESPN was the plan.
Vanderka (2-3) took the loss for Stony Brook, getting only one out on Austin Nola's sacrifice bunt that moved Moore into scoring position.
Vanderka then intentionally walked JaCoby Jones, who had hit the Tigers' dramatic tying homer in the ninth, setting up Katz's winning single on a liner to left center.
"When Nola came up with a guy on first, coach turned to me and JaCoby and said, 'One of you drive the run in,'" Katz said. "I said, 'If he doesn't, I will.'"
Stony Brook coaches and players were not available for comment as they prepared for Game 2, slated to start about 35 minutes after Game 1 ended.
Saturday's quick resolution to Game 1 capped a contest that seemed to have no end in sight on Friday, when LSU tied it three times and then a heavy thunder storm delayed proceedings a little more than 2 1/2 hours before NCAA officials and coaches agreed it would be better to send the athletes home for the night and resume play the following day.
"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 after Friday's postponement had been announced.
The contest's conclusion was a bitter one to an otherwise well-played game for Stony Brook, which in LSU coach Paul Mainieri's opinion had outplayed the Tigers for most of Friday's game. The Seawolves outhit LSU 14-9, but left 14 runners on base and committed three errors, one of which led to LSU's first run.
Sal Intagliata's two-run homer in the second gave the Seawolves a lead that lasted until 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 when he clubbed a towering shot over the right-field wall in the top of the 10th. But Goldstein overran Moore's two-out foul popup 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 Friday. "Fortunately, I got another chance to keep hitting."
Goldstein, who had to run a long way for the ball and into the bullpen 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, tagged up aggressively on a shallow fly to center and narrowly beat Katz's throw to make it 4-3.
Katz made up for it at the plate in the bottom of the inning, clobbering reliever Jasvir Rakkar's 2-0 pitch over the left-field wall for the Tigers' third solo homer in three innings.