Nola outduels Oklahoma's Gray as LSU prevails in opener of super regional
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Aaron Nola threw a two-hitter, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore belted a run-scoring double off Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray to break a scoreless tie in the eighth and LSU took Game 1 of the Baton Rouge Super Regional 2-0 on Friday.
Mark Laird had three hits, the last a run-scoring single in the eighth for LSU (56-9), which can advance to the College World Series for the 16th time by beating Oklahoma (43-20) once more on Saturday or Sunday.
Nola (12-0) struck out six and didn't walk a batter to help LSU snap Oklahoma's winning streak at eight.
Gray (10-3), picked third overall by Colorado on Thursday in the Major League Baseball draft, allowed two runs on five hits through 7.1 innings. He struck out nine and walked two.
The rosters of both teams combined for eight players who'd been selected in the first 10 rounds of this year's draft.
The highest amongst those ranks was the 6-foot-4, 239-pound Gray, a burly, hard-throwing righty who is regularly clocked in the mid-to-high 90s.
He gave up his first hit in the second inning, when Raph Rhymes, a .340 hitter, lined a sharp opposite-field single to right.
He wound up throwing 118 pitches before being driven from the game by Moore's hard shot to the right field wall. Laird's RBI single came off reliever Ralph Garza Jr.
On most nights, Gray's outing would have been good enough for the Sooners to notch a win.
However, Nola, a 6-1, 183-pound sophomore, didn't allow a hit until the fifth, when OU's leading hitter, Matt Oberste, led off with his 19th double of the season to left-center field. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Nola then struck out Anthony Hermelyn and got Colt Bickerstaff to ground out to second to keep the Sooners scoreless.
Oklahoma had only one hit by Bickerstaff the rest of the way.