Home runs power LSU past Marist 14-5

After falling behind 4-0 in the top of the first Friday, LSU allowed only one run over the next eight innings while scoring 11 runs in its last three at bats to defeat Marist, 14-5, and advance to Saturday's winners' bracket game at 6 p.m.

The Tigers advanced to face the winner of No. 2 Rice and Northwestern State, which meet at 6 p.m. this evening. Marist (33-20) will face the loser of that game at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

LSU (39-20) fell into a deep hole in the first inning, as Marist squeezed four singles past the LSU defense and took advantage of an error and a walk to take a 4-0 lead on starter Justin Meier.

However, the LSU pitching staff allowed on one run on seven hits over the next eight innings, while the LSU offense came alive in the sixth inning.

"It looks like the offense won the game, said LSU coach Smoke Laval, "but I want to tell you (third baseman) made two great plays that could have changed the momentum. We turned two double plays to keep us in the game and take the momentum away from them a little bit."

The Tigers pounded four home runs and five doubles on the way to a 19-hit performance. Jordan Mayer and Clay Harris each had three RBI, while Quinn Stewart was 3-for-4 with one run and two RBI. Mayer finished 2-for-4 at the place, while Clay Harris was 2-for-6.

LSU reliever Jason Determann (5-0) threw only four pitches in the seventh inning, but earned the win by getting the final out before the Tigers took the lead with a six-run bottom of the seventh.

Marist's first of five relief pitchers, Scott Chambers (3-6), was charged with the loss after allowing three runs on three hits in 1/3 of an inning.

Center fielder Travis Muscof and shortstop Andy Kiriakedes each singled to center field off Meier to open the game before the LSU righthander earned consecutive outs on a fly ball and a strikeout.

Marist used a pair of two-RBI singles to take a 4-0 lead, as designated hitter Kevin Buck walked to load the bases and Thomas Ciccarone hit through the left side sent Muscof and Kiriakedes home. Stewart overran the ball in left field, allowing runner to advance to second and third with two outs.

Leading 2-0, Red Fox right fielder Kevin Grauer singled to left field to score Buck and Ciccarone, the last of which was unearned. Meier struckout No. 8 hitter Joe Sargent struckout on three pitches to end the inning.

LSU answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning, the first without the benefit of a hit.

Third baseman Chris Jackson walked to leadoff and advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt by Marist starter Chris Tracz that rolled to the fence by the right field foul line. He scored LSU's first run on an RBI groundout by Mayer.

Ryan Patterson reached on a throwing error by Sargent and advanced to second on a single by Nick Stavinoha with two outs. Stewart then hit a textbook Texas Leaguer to right-center field that went for a double and scored Patterson and cut the lead to 4-2.

After throwing 28 pitches in the first inning, Meier threw only four in the top of the second to get the Red Foxes down in order.

The Tigers inched one run closer, 4-3, in the bottom of the third when Stavinoha lined a one-out double off the top of the left-center field wall and scored when Kiriakedes' throw sailed high on Stewart's infield base hit. Stewart advanced to second, but was stranded when Will Harris popped up and Matt Liuzza grounded out to end the threat.

Marist used a bit of "small ball" to match the run with one of their own in the top of the fourth against Meier. Grauer's bunt down the third-base line was good enough for him to reach first without a throw. Grauer stole his seventh base of the season and scored on a two-out single by Muscof. Marist led, 5-3.

Meier was relieved by Edgar Ramirez to start the fifth inning. He pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings allowing three hits and striking out one.

Tracz's day ended in the bottom of the sixth when Jordan Mayer crushed a two-run home run over the left field bleachers. The homer was the first allowed by Tracz since May 3, 2003, a span of 532 plate appearances in 128 innings. Tracz redshirted the 2004 season.

"Once the big guy (Mayer) got one up," Laval said, "it kind of ignited us and then we got the bats going and started swinging with confidence after that."

The home run tied the game at 5-5. Righthander Scott Chambers entered in relief of Tracz and forced Clay Harris to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

Marist mounded a threat against Ramirez by putting two runners on base with a pair of two-out singles in the top of the seventh. However, LSU All-American Jason Determann entered to get the last out, a difficult over-the-shoulder catch by Jackson at third base.

LSU sent Chambers to the showers and put the game out of reach in the seventh inning, as Stavinoha and Stewart hit back-to-back first-pitch homers to start a six-run inning. Will Harris' single brought Bobby Hastry from the Red Fox bullpen. Hastry got the first out of the inning on a sacrifice bunt by Liuzza before allowing an RBI double to Michael Hollander that gave LSU an 8-5 lead.

Jackson continued the inning with a single, however, Hollander became the second out of the inning when he was thrown out at the plate by Brachold in right field. However, after Hastry walked Mayer, he was relived by Erik Supplee. Supplee proceeded to walk Patterson on four pitches to load the bases for Clay Harris, who doubled to left center to clear the bases and give the Tigers an 11-5 lead.

LSU reliever Jordan Faircloth entered the game to start the eighth, as Determann stayed in the game to play first base. He allowed only a single before getting a double-play ground ball to end the inning.

The Tigers added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth against Marist reliever Kevin Kelly. Kelly walked Bruce Sprowl but was out at second on a fielder's choice by pinch hitter Blake Gill. Liuzza hit his third home run of the season to give LSU a 13-5 lead. After a double by Hollander, Derek Hebert pinch ran and scored on an RBI single by Jackson.

Eric English pitched a scoreless ninth inning for LSU with two strikeouts.

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