June 12, 2016
BATON ROUGE, La. — Coastal Carolina’s Michael Paez hit a walk-off single in the ninth inning against LSU to give the Chanticleers a first berth in the College World Series, 4-3, late Sunday at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU (45-21), which overcame a 3-1 deficit with runs in the seventh and ninth innings, left eight runners on base in its final three frames and 12 for the game.
Coastal Carolina (49-16) scored its conference’s first berth in Omaha by sweeping the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional following an 11-8 win that ended early Sunday morning. The Chanticleers will face Florida or Florida State in its CWS opening game next weekend.
“It’s obviously a very painful thing for a season to come to an end,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I’ve been doing this a lot of years, and it doesn’t get any easier, I can tell you that. I feel for the kids, especially ones that won’t be back next season.
“We did a lot of good stuff this year. I don’t think a lot of people even predicted we would even be in this position, but quite frankly, that doesn’t really give us much solace right now. We’re just really disappointed. You feel like you’re going to win right till the very end, and then all of a sudden it’s over. But you take it and you deal with it and you move on. I feel for these kids. I feel for our fans. I feel for everybody. It’s just a tough thing. But we’ll rise again.”
With the help of a walk and two wild pitches, Coastal Carolina put a pair of runs on the board in the bottom of the first inning against LSU starter Jared Poche’. Leadoff hitter Anthony Marks reached on an infield single, tagged and moved to second on a long popout to center, then scored after a pair of wild pitches. Connor Owings, who walked and advanced on the second wild pitch, scored on a single to right field by G.K. Young to put the Chanticleers ahead 2-0.
In the third, LSU touched CCU starter Alex Cunningham for a run on a double by Cole Freeman down the left field line that scored Chris Reid from second base. Antoine Duplantis followed with another double off the wall, however, Freeman had to stay close to second base until the ball cleared Owings’ glove in right field. With one out and runners on second and third, LSU popped out twice to end the threat trailing 2-1.
The Tigers were unable to push across the tying run in the fourth and fifth innings, leaving a runner in scoring position each time. In the sixth, Coastal Carolina added to its advantage with a single by Young, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single by Kevin Woodall Jr. The Chanticleers led, 3-1.
LSU pulled within a run, 3-2, in the seventh by getting three hits off Cunningham. Reid hit a one-out single through the right side and Michael Papierski followed with a single through the left side. After a popout, Duplantis lined a double into the left field bullpen that scored Reid. Papierski was stopped at third following a quick relay, and Fraley grounded out to first base to end the inning.
In the eighth, the Tigers chased Cunningham with a single by Robertson, a fielder’s choice and a throwing error by third baseman Zach Remillard that allowed Jordan Romero reach base with one out. Bobby Holmes entered and struck out Beau Jordan on three pitches before walking Reid on four pitches. With the bases loaded, Papierski hit a sharp grounder up the middle that resulted in a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
LSU finally tied the game in the top of the ninth when Freeman reached on an error and advanced on a wild pitch. After a walk to Duplantis, Fraley put down a sacrifice bunt that ended with the LSU centerfielder barreling over second baseman Cameron Pearcey who dropped the ball while covering first. Freeman scored to tie the game at 3-3 with no outs, however, LSU couldn’t scratch across the go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the ninth, Coastal turned a leadoff walk into the game-winning run after a stolen bases and Paez’s walk-off single.