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NCAA BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP - BATON ROUGE REGIONAL

LSU topples Lehigh in NCAA opener

1637 days ago
LSU Athletics
Photo: Gerald Herbert | AP

BATON ROUGE -- LSU stole eight bases for the first time in 20 years and overcame a rain delay and a 2-0 deficit to advance in the NCAA Baseball Regional, 10-3, over Lehigh on Friday at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

LSU (49-10), champions of the Southeastern Conference and No. 2 national seed in the 64-team tournament, scored at least a run in each frame from the fourth through the eighth innings to pull away from Lehigh (25-30).

The Tigers return to action in a winner's bracket game against the winner of Friday's nightcap between UNC Wilmington and Tulane. The game will be televised starting Saturday at 8 p.m. CT. by the SEC Network with live streaming video on ESPN3.com. The LSU Sports Radio Network pregame show begins at 7:30 p.m. on Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and around the world in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.

As planned, the Tigers used seven pitchers, of whom Austin Bain was the only to throw more than an inning of work. The staff allowed only five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Andrew Stevenson led LSU at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. Eight players had at least one of LSU's 13 hits.

In winning its 26th-straight NCAA Regional opener, the Tigers stole eight bases for the first time since March 26, 1995, at Vanderbilt.

Lehigh dropped into Saturday's loser's bracket game at 3 p.m. CT. That game will be streamed on ESPN3.com.

LSU starter Alden Cartwright needed only 11 pitches to retire the Mountain Hawks in order in the top of the first. However, when a sudden downpour soaked the infield and delayed the game prior to the bottom of the inning by more than two hours, LSU head coach Paul Mainieri elected to use his bullpen an inning or two earlier than originally planned.

Austin Bain took over for the Tigers and worked around a single and a walk in the third inning to keep the game scoreless.

In the fourth, Mike Garzillo hit his 17th double of the season off Bain and scored on a fielding error by LSU second baseman Jared Foster to put Lehigh ahead. A double by Patrick Walshe increased the lead to 2-0.

A second time through the batting order, the Tigers figured out soft-throwing lefty Nick Macaione in the bottom of the fourth. Stevenson and Chris Chinea each singled and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Danny Zardon's RBI groundout cut the deficit to 2-1 before another wild pitch allowed Chinea to tie the game.

Hunter Newman (3-0) took the mound for LSU in the top of the fifth and worked around a leadoff walk with three-straight outs.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers took their first lead, 3-2, off Lehigh reliever Kevin Boswick (3-4), who took the loss. Alex Bregman was hit by a pitch and stole second before Conner Hale walked. Bregman advanced to third when Hale was caught stealing second and then scored on single back up the middle by Kade Scivicque.

A quick 1-2-3 inning by LSU's Jessie Stallings in the top of the sixth allowed the Tigers to continue its momentum with three more runs in the bottom of the inning. The Tigers extended the lead to 6-2 with an RBI double by pinch hitter Chris Sciambra, a bases-load walk to Hale and an RBI groundout by Scivicque.

After Lehigh struck for a single run off a Doug Norman wild pitch in the top of the seventh, the Tigers added a pair of runs in both the seventh and eighth innings. In the seventh, Sciambra drove in Chinea with a sacrifice fly and Jake Fraley scored on a wild pitch to give LSU an 8-3 lead.

In the eighth, a double by Stevenson scored Hale from second and Stevenson scored from third on a sacrifice fly by Chinea that put LSU ahead, 10-3.

Hunter Duvall, LSU's seventh pitcher of the evening, finished off the Mountain Hawks in the ninth.