BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU’s season ended in a gutsy, extra innings battle against Florida State in the Baton Rouge Super Regional Sunday night.
The Tigers (40-26) fell 5-4 to the Seminoles (41-21) in 12 innings on a walk-off single.
The late night at Alex Box Stadium ended in disappointment for the LSU Tigers and the 11,713 in attendance. The Tigers’ season came to a close just as hopes were high that they would get the chance to head to Omaha.
For the second straight night, there was a dramatic comeback in the late innings, but unlike Florida State’s victory Saturday, favored LSU could not close out the Seminoles and keep their head coach Mike Martin from making it to Omaha in his swan song season.
Landon Marceaux started on the mound for LSU, but it was Devin Fontenot who shined on the bump for the Tigers, despite giving up the game-losing hit. Fontenot allowed the one run on two hits in 6.1 innings of work. He struck out a career-high 11 of the 22 batters he faced. He also threw a career-high 97 pitches. Fontenot dropped to 5-4 on the season with the loss.
Marceaux allowed four runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings of work. He had two strikeouts. He was relieved by Matthew Beck, who had two strikeouts and a walk in 1.2 innings on the mound.
Things didn’t go well for the Tigers early in the game and they fell behind. In the second inning, Robby Martin slid safely into home when Saul Garza lost the ball on the tag. Then, Matheu Nelson singled to left field to score J.C. Flowers. Later in the inning, a single to center field by Mike Salvatore plated Carter Smith to put the Seminoles up 3-0.
“I am so proud of our guys; they just gave it everything they had,” said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. “That performance by Devin Fontenot tonight. If we had won the ballgame, we would be talking about it 15 years from now. He gave everything he had for our team. I am so proud of how far Devin has come. It makes you excited about his future as we go forward. The toughest thing about this business is not just the losing and seeing the season come to an end, it is having to say goodbye to people that are such a big part of your life.”
In the top of the fourth, LSU’s all-time hits leader, Antoine Duplantis blasted his 12th home run on the season, tying him with Daniel Cabrera for the team high. The solo shot down the right field line made it 3-1. Duplantis went 4-for-6 in the game with three RBI. He finished his college career with 359 hits, which is tied for 11th in NCAA history.
In the bottom of the inning, a double to left field by Tim Becker sent Nelson home to give Florida State a 4-1 lead.
In the top of the sixth, Duplantis hit a single to left field to score Josh Smith to make it 4-2. In the top of the eighth, a double by Duplantis scored Smith again to bring the Tigers within one run. Later in the inning, Zach Watson completed the comeback when he lined a single to left, scoring Duplantis. However, with the potential winning run at third base and only one out, Watson was thrown out trying to make it to second and LSU never scored again.
“Antoine and Josh are two of several on this team that will not be back next year, and when they leave, you feel like a piece of you left with them. We have been out there on that field for three or four years together, sweating, working and going through the ups and downs that every season is. I told the boys I was very proud to be their coach. My life has been enriched by having them in it. When you have to say goodbye to youngsters like that, it is hard,” Mainieri added.
In the bottom of the 12th, with one out, Mike Salvatore hit a single up the middle. Next, a wild pitch allowed him to move into scoring position at second. Then, Drew Mendoza ripped a single to right field to score Salvatore and clinch the win for the Seminoles.
“Unbelievable," said Mendoza. "I don’t think anyone in this room, let alone this country would have put us in this place right now (into Omaha). We are all blessed, it’s been an incredible ride. We have always believed in each other and we just got on a roll and are going to keep it going.”
CJ Van Eyk was the starting pitcher for Florida State. He allowed four runs on eight hits in the 7.1 innings he was on the mound. He had five strikeouts and walked two batters. Antonio Velez entered in relief. He gave up four hits in 4.2 innings but no runs. He had six strikeouts and no walks. He improved to 5-2 with the win.
Florida State moves on to the College World Series. It will be the 23rd time in school history the Seminoles have reached the CWS.