After plenty of hand-wringing and uneasy moments from LSU fans between the Tigers’ final game of the SEC Tournament and Sunday’s night, closer Nick Goody had every opportunity to get nervous and not be ready for the biggest moment of his college career.
Instead, the feisty Florida native chose a different tact.
“I just came out there and pitched the way I always have and the way I know I can,” Goody said. “You can’t sit around and worry about what happened the last time you pitched. Not if you’re going to be a closer and be good at it.”
Goody didn’t do that, and in two appearances in the regional he was nearly untouchable.
In two innings, the hard-throwing right-hander faced six hitters, struck out four and didn’t allow a base runner.
His shining moment, of course, was his three-strikeout 10th innings against Oregon State. That one – his 10th save in 11 this season in a one-run game – propels the Tigers (46-16) into the Super Regional round.
“That’s the guy we want out there in that situation,” JaCoby Jones said. “He had a few hiccups, but he’s been great all season and we have all the confidence in the world he’s going to get the job done.”
Strangely enough, Goody said his meltdown against Mississippi State was a useful tool throughout the week leading up to the regional and even Sunday night.
Falling down in such a dramatic way on the big – but not as big as this weekend – stage in Hoover helped Goody refocus on how he needed to approach hitters.
And when Beavers coach Pat Casey tried to slow things down in the LSU 10th inning and made Goody start and stop several times as he was warming up, te Orlando native took it in stride.
“I just remembered what happened at the SEC Tournament when the Mississippi State coach (John Cohen) was playing those games and making me wait out there on the mound,” Goody said. “I realized there wasn’t anything I could do, so I just paced myself and didn’t think about it. I was ready to go when I got out there.”
Paced by Goody, the LSU bullpen was nearly impenetrable in three regional games.
LSU scored 17 runs on 21 hits in the three games, so there wasn’t a whole lot of offense to go around.
|Austin Nola: Batted .400 and had an OBA of .500 in three regional games|
But when the Tigers needed a hit or a run, some familiar faces came through.
Austin Nola led the way at the plate, going 4-for-10 with three walks and a .500 on-base average. He also drive in four runs to match fellow senior Tyler Hanover for the team lead. Nola and Arby Fields each scored three times.
The one glaring problem area for the Tigers was Mason Katz, who had just one hit in 11 at-bats and fanned seven times.
The Tigers committed only one error in 114 chances in three games, a .991 fielding percentage. The infield was particularly effective, with 34 chances among Nola, Hanover, Katz and Jones without a glitch. Alex Edward also was flawless in three busy games with 10 putouts in right field.
LSU’s three foes – ULM once and Oregon State twice – kicked the ball all over Alex Box Stadium with eight errors in three games, a .933 fielding clip.
NCAA hands LSU-Stony Brook early times