LSU only had five hits against Louisiana-Lafayette, but the fifth one saved the day.
The Tigers had blown a three-run lead in the top of the ninth and had gone hitless since the fourth. Chris Sciambra bucked the Cajuns’ momentum and delivered a walk-off home run to give LSU a 4-3 victory and send the Tigers one win from the College World Series.
It was the Tigers’ first walk-off home run in an NCAA Tournament game since 2003.
“I had two not so great swings to start the at-bat,” Sciambra said. “I got a decent pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. It’s an unbelievable feeling for me.”
LSU was in the midst of another disappointing night at the plate before Sciambra’s blast. ULL had held the Tigers hitless since Sciambra’s one-out single in the fourth. LSU went twice through the lineup between Sciambra’s last hit and his at-bat in the ninth.
He fell behind in the count 2-2 before ULL reliever Will Bacon tossed a chest-high fastball. Sciambra took advantage of the pitch up in the zone and deposited it in the right field bleachers.
It was his third home run of the season and cemented his place in LSU lore.
“It’s not how you draw them up, but we’ll take it,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I’ve been around this game for a long time, and I’ve seen just about everything. That was one for the ages.”
ULL had the Tigers on the ropes after coming back from a 3-0 deficit against Alex Lange. The LSU freshman had held the Cajuns without a run through 5 1/3, extending his scoreless streak from last week’s complete game shutout.
Lange struck out 11 in the game, including eight through the third and sixth innings. The Cajuns only had three hits against him before the sixth.
“Alex Lange just put the team on his back tonight,” Mainieri said. “He gave us a real chance.”
ULL finally got to him for a run on three hits in the sixth, the first time in the NCAA Tournament that Lange had surrendered multiple hits in an inning. Tyler Girouard made it 3-1 with an RBI-single to center.
The Cajuns cut the deficit to one in a rain-soaked eighth inning. Though a storm dumped steady rain over Alex Box Stadium throughout the frame, play continued while Lange started to let things slip away.
He gave up a two-out, infield single before walking the next batter on four pitches. Former LSU Tiger Evan Powell brought Stefan Trosclair home with a double to make it 3-2. Lange managed to escape the inning without any further damage, thanks to a clutch play by Alex Bregman.
LSU sent him back to the mound in the ninth, hoping he’d finish his second consecutive complete game. Those hopes lasted one pitch though as ULL pinch-hitter Brann Conrad crushed a game-tying solo home run, his first of the season.
“I wanted to see him finish the ninth,” Mainieri said. “How can you predict something like this is going to happen?”
Parker Bugg replaced him and retired all three batters he faced to maintain the tie and give Sciambra his chance to win it.
LSU took the lead early in the game behind three RBI by Jake Fraley. He drove in Mark Laird with a double in the first and made it 3-0 with a two-run homer in the third.
The Tigers will try to clinch their spot in Omaha on Sunday at 6:05 p.m. Jared Poché will get the start after throwing 8 2/3 scoreless innings last week in the regional championship game.
“We need one more win to get to Omaha,” Mainieri said. “They understand that. There’s nothing I need to say to them to understand the gravity of what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Chris Sciambra's walkoff lifts LSU past ULL
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