LSU infielder Austin Nola fields a ground-out by Oregon State's Jake Rodriguez in the second inning Saturday. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, June 02, 2012 11:55 PM
BATON ROUGE — It wasn’t exactly vintage Kevin Gausman Saturday night, but LSU looked very familiar anyway for a home NCAA regional.
Gausman, LSU’s ace, got through eight innings without his best stuff and the Tigers scratched out enough runs to take control of the regional with a 7-1 victory over Oregon State.
Shortstop Austin Nola continued his hot play with a pair of RBIs, including a triple that capped the night’s scoring in the eighth, while Arby Fields scored two runs despite not getting a hit.
But that’s kind of night it was as the Tigers ended the day as the last team unbeaten despite their two best hitters, Raph Rhymes and Mason Katz, combining for one hit through two games.
“It was kind of a weird game,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “The tempo of the game was just real slow. We kind of grinded our way through and got ourselves a victory.”
The Tigers will be back in action at 6:30 p.m. today, awaiting the winner of the 1:30 p.m. elimination game between the Beavers (39-19) and Louisiana-Monroe (32-29).
LSU can sew up the regional and get ready to host next week’s super regional by winning that game, while a loss would force a deciding game at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
ULM stayed alive in the regional with a 6-3 victory over Belmont (39-24) earlier Saturday.
“It’s the difference in having to win one game and having to win three games,” Mainieri said. “That’s pretty significant.
“But we haven’t won anything yet. We still have to pitch and play to our capabilities. We’ll go out and let it go like it’s our last game. Hopefully we’ll get the job done. If not, we’ve got a well-rested bullpen.”
The Tigers, who have never failed to advance when in this position, will send Ryan Eades (5-2, 3.36 ERA) to the mound.
“We have complete confidence in him,” Mainieri said.
LSU got on the board in the second when Ty Ross and Grant Dozar led off with back-to-back singles and were sacrificed up a base before Tyler Hanover got one home on a ground out and Nola singled in another.
The scenario was almost the same an inning later when Katz was hit by a pitch and Rhymes singled, with both later moving up on a wild pitch. Ross’ ground out scored Katz and Dozar singled home Rhymes.
That held up with Gausman’s grit more than his best stuff , while the LSU defense several sterling plays as usual.
“Maybe he wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in previous weeks,” Mainieri said. “He just showed another side of himself, how he could battle through being as fine as he normally is.
“A kid with lesser mental toughness would have probably started to pout and feel sorry for himself. He kept battling right through it.”
Gausman equaled his season high with four walks, hit another batter and had a season-low three strikeouts.
“I didn’t have my normal command,” Gausman said. “It was something I had to fight the entire night. I didn’t have my best secondary pitch, which is my changeup.
“I give Oregon State a lot of credit. They didn’t chase many pitches.”
But for the most part Gausman managed to get the outs he needed.
The Beavers, who didn’t go up and down in order until the sixth inning, stranded six runners in scoring position, but only managed the lone run in the third inning.
“I thought his last innings were his best,” Mainieri said.
Closer Nick Goody, coming off a rough blown save-loss when the Tigers were eliminated from the Southeastern Conference tournament last week, came on for a perfect ninth with two strikeouts.
“I don’t want to say his confidence is back,” Mainieri said. “I don’t think that kid ever lost his confidence. But it was good to see him have a clean inning.”