A night after LSU recorded only three hits against Rice's Steven Herce, Crowder limited the Tigers to three hits over the first eight innings and survived a LSU comeback attempt in the bottom of the ninth. The left-hander used a menu of fastballs and sliders to keep ahead of LSU's batters through most of the game.
Crowder's five-hit shutout included five strikeouts and three walks. He faced 32 LSU hitters to improve to
In the two-game sweep, Rice pitching struck out 15 LSU hitters and restricted the Tigers to a .136 average.
The LSU bench watches the final inning as Rice wins Game 2 of the NCAA Super Regional. 3-0, at Reckling Park in Houston. Rice's win gave the Owls a berth in the College World Series. (AP Photo/Brett Coomer)
LSU finishes its season at 44-22 while Rice takes a 52-12 mark to the College World Series, which starts Friday at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
Just like Friday night's game, the third inning was the offensive difference for Rice. A two-run homer from Eric Arnold provided the winning run for the Owls and allowed him to break the school's career hit mark set by current Houston Astros' Lance Berkman.
Arnold tied Berkman's mark with a single in the first inning and increased his career hit total to 289 with another single and a double. Arnold scored the game's final run after his double in the eighth on Vincent Sinisi's single.
LSU bettered its performance from Friday night in that the Tigers were able to put a base runner in scoring position Saturday afternoon. In fact, five LSU players actually reached second base - with one advancing to third - but all seven Tigers who reached against Crowder were stranded.
"I was just trying to throw strikes, keep guys off balance, and let our defense do the work behind me," said Crowder. "We had some great defense and Eric got the big hit."
Rice had better success against LSU starter Brian Wilson, who gave up all three runs to the Owls on ten hits with seven strikeouts and a walk. Wilson labored at times but was steady for the most part over eight innings, yielding to Jake Tompkins for the ninth inning.
Rice starting pitcher Justin Crowder, left, and catcher Justin Ruchti celebrate Rice's 3-0 win over LSU in Game 2 of their NCAA Super Regional. Crowder pitched a complete-game shutout, with five strikeouts, as Rice gained a berth in the College World Series. (AP Photo/Brett Coomer)
In the bottom of the ninth, LSU put together its only scoring threat of the weekend when Sean Barker beat out a throw from Rice third baseman Hunter Brown on his grounder deep to the left side.
Matt Heath followed with a double down the left field line that got Barker to third and brought the tying run to the plate.
Rocky Scelfo worked Crowder to a full count but flied to second base for the second out.
The Tigers' last hope, designated hitter Jon Zeringue, got six pitches from Crowder before he grounded hard to first base where Sinisi made the grab and tossed to Crowder covering the bag.