No. 9 LSU overcame its first ninth-inning deficit of the 2013 season in walkoff fashion Thursday night.
Raph Rhymes' one-out single to deep left field gave LSU a 6-5 victory against BYU (2-3) at Alex Box Stadium. LSU (5-0) once trailed by three runs and tied the game twice before Rhymes ultimately won it on the game's final pitch.
"It's good for the team to have one of these early like this," Rhymes said. "These younger guys can learn from this. We got behind, but we kept battling. That's what we do here at LSU."
Christian Ibarra, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, started things off with a game-tying solo home run into the left field bleachers. Recruited primarily for his defensive ability at third base, Ibarra's power stroke surprised no one in purple and gold.
"At first I thought it was a pop fly," Ibarra said. "Then I thought about the wind and I saw it carry as I was rounding first and I was like ‘Hell yeah.' I was pretty pumped."
Chris Sciambra followed Ibarra with a four-pitch walk before Mark Laird earned his fourth hit of the night with a single to the opposite field. Alex Bregman reached in similar fashion, loading the bases with one out for Rhymes, who capped off the late comeback with one swing of the bat.
"I struggled a little bit earlier in the game, and I told myself I was not getting out this time," Rhymes said. "I knew my team needed me in that situation. It was a good chance to hit, and I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball."
LSU took an early lead with a Mason Katz solo home run in the second inning, but an unusually wild night by Aaron Nola put the Tigers in a hole.
After a strikeout to open the third inning, Nola walked BYU leadoff man Jacob Hannemann. He then allowed back-to-back singles, including a RBI-single by Adam Law that tied it up for the Cougars.
Jaycob Brugman followed with a three-run homer to right-center to put BYU ahead 4-1.
"I don't think that was Aaron's best stuff," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "He didn't have great command, and he fell behind on a lot of hitters…He gave up the home run to a pretty good player. That kid is an outstanding ballplayer."
Nola stopped the bleeding by getting the next two batters out before tossing three more innings of scoreless ball. He finished with six strikeouts in six innings, allowing four runs on four hits. His three walks were a career-high.
"I thought I had pretty good stuff, but I had three walks. That's going to hurt me no matter what," Nola said. "I didn't have my A-game."
LSU battled back to cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the third. JaCoby Jones brought in a pair with a two-out double to right field, his fourth and fifth RBI of the young season.
The Tigers tied it up in the seventh when Bregman drove in Laird with a high popfly that landed just inside the first base foul line.
BYU would take the lead one more time in the eighth inning on a RBI double by Brugman. But the clutch hitting from LSU in the final frame gave the Tigers the win.
"Those games sure are a lot more fun to win than they are to lose," Mainieri said. "The difference at the end of the day is a big one."
LSU returns to action Friday to face Southeastern Louisiana at 7:00 p.m. Ryan Eades (0-0) will take the mound for the Tigers.
No. 9 LSU defeats BYU in walkoff fashion
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