EUGENE, Ore. – LSU centerfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo slapped a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 10th inning Saturday to lift the Tigers to a 6-5 win over Central Connecticut State in an elimination game of the NCAA Eugene Regional at PK Park.
LSU improved to 35-23 on the year and will play the loser of Saturday night’s Oregon-Gonzaga game at 5 p.m. CT Sunday. Central Connecticut State ended its season with a 28-15 record.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th, leftfielder Gavin Dugas was hit by a pitch from CCSU closer Jake Neuman before designated hitter Zach Arnold singled sharply to right field. Neuman walked second baseman Drew Bianco to load the bases, and DiGiacomo singled up the middle to score Dugas with the winning run.
The outcome marked LSU’s fifth walk-off victory this season, and the Tigers recorded the 100th NCAA Regional win in program history.
“I’m so proud of our players,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “They went out there and laid it all on the line, and they weren’t going to have any regrets. I knew that the Central Connecticut State team was tough and hard-nosed, and they battled us all day long. It was a tremendous ball game, and fortunately we found a way to win.
“We get to play another day and take them one game at a time, and I’m just happy that I get to keep working.”
LSU closer Devin Fontenot (4-2) was credited with the win as he pitched a scoreless top of the 10th inning, allowing no hits with two strikeouts. Reliever Garrett Edwards entered the game to start the fifth inning and recorded five shutout frames, giving up just two hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
Neuman (5-1) was charged with the loss, as he surrendered one run on four hits in 2.1 innings with two walks and one strikeout.
LSU grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as rightfielder Dylan Crews led off the frame with his 14th homer of the year, and first baseman Tre’ Morgan provided an RBI single.
Central Connecticut stormed back with five runs in the top of the second as shortstop Matt Bertochi blooped an RBI single, designated hitter Dan Covino drilled a two-run double and first baseman Noah Martinez blasted a two-run homer, his seventh of the year.
The Tigers rebounded to tie the game in the third as Crews led off with his second homer of the game, and Bianco ripped a two-out, two-run double.
LSU starting pitcher Ma’Khail Hilliard worked four innings and was charged with five runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts. After the Blue Devils’ five-run second inning, Hilliard blanked CCSU over the final two innings of his outing.
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