BATON ROUGE, La. — Aaron Nola threw a two-hitter, pinch hitter Tyler Moore belted a run-scoring double off Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray to break a scoreless tie in the eighth, and Louisiana State University took Game 1 of the NCAA Baton Rouge super regional, 2-0 on Friday night.
Mark Laird had three hits, the last a run-scoring single in eighth for LSU (56-9), which can advance to the College World Series for the 16th time by beating Oklahoma (43-20) once more today or Sunday.
“You know what the great ones do? And he did it today. When the game is on the line, no matter how good you are, you’re still going to have that moment or two during the course of the game that’s going to define the game, and he had it,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said of Nola. “He raised his game to another level. All the great pitchers that I’ve had in my coaching career – that was the common denominator.”
Nola (12-0) struck out six and didn’t walk a batter to help LSU snap Oklahoma’s winning streak at eight.
Gray (10-3), picked third overall by Colorado this Thursday in the Major League Baseball draft, allowed two runs on five hits through 7⅓ innings. He struck out nine and walked two.
The rosters of both teams combined included eight players who’d been selected in the first 10 rounds of this year’s Major League Baseball draft that began Thursday night.
The highest was the 6-foot-4, 239-pound Gray, a burly, hard-throwing righty who is regularly clocked in the mid- to high-90s.
He wound up throwing 118 pitches before being driven from the game by Moore’s hard shot to the right field wall. Laird’s RBI single came off reliever Ralph Garza Jr.
On most nights, Gray’s outing would have been good enough for the Sooners. Just not against LSU’s unbeaten ace.
UCLA 5, CAL STATE-FULLERTON 3
In Fullerton, Calif., UCLA scored twice in the 10th inning and then held off Cal State-Fullerton in the bottom of the inning to win Game 1 of their super regional.
In the top of the 10th, Eric Filia singled in Brian Carroll for the go-ahead run. Pat Valaika followed with a sacrifice fly.
Cal State-Fullerton had men on first and second base in the bottom of the inning with one out. But David Berg struck out the next two batters to end the game.
Game 2 is scheduled for today. Game 3, if necessary, will be played Sunday.
UCLA improved to 43-17 while Cal State-Fullerton dropped to 51-9.