LSU right-hander Aaron Nola outdueled Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray, and pinch hitter Tyler Moore drove in the tie-breaking run with an eighth-inning double as the Tigers won the opening game of the Baton Rouge Super Regional 2-0 on Friday night in Alex Box Stadium.
The teams will play again at 6 p.m. Saturday, and another victory would send LSU (56-9) to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., for the first time since their 2009 national championship season.
Nola (12-0) went the distance, allowing just two hits, walking none and striking out six. Gray, who was selected by the Colorado Rockies with the third choice in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday night, matched Nola through seven innings.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, JaCoby Jones hit a line drive into the gap in right-center and sped to third to become the first LSU base runner to reach scoring position against Gray (10-3).
Moore pinch-hit for Andrew Stevenson and lined a double to right as the largest crowd in LSU history (11,095) erupted. Mark Laird singled against reliever Ralph Garza Jr. for his third hit, sending home pinch runner Jared Foster with an insurance run.
Nola and Gray showed right away why their matchup was so eagerly anticipated.
After getting the Sooners in order in the first, Nola hit Matt Oberste leading off the second, then picked him off first. He then retired eight in a row, facing the minimum through four innings.
OU (43-20) got its first hit when Oberste led off the fifth with a double to left-center and Hector Lorenzana sacrificed him to third. Nola struck out Anthony Hermelyn and got Colt Bickerstaff to ground out to second.
Nola bounced back with 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh.
Gray walked Sean McMullen, returning after a one-game absence because of a strained hamstring, leading off the bottom of the first, then struck out Laird and Alex Bregman. Mason Katz hit a liner into right center, but Taylor Alspaugh made a diving catch.
Raph Rhymes led off the second with a single, but after Christian Ibarra struck out and Ty Ross flied out, Rhymes was thrown out trying to steal second.
The Tigers went out in order in the third before Laird led off the fourth by beating out a grounder to second. But Gray bounced back by getting Bregman to hit into a double play and Katz to fly out.
Gray walked Ross with two out in the fifth, then struck out Jones looking. Laird singled with two outs in the sixth before Bregman grounded into a forceout.
The seventh was Gray’s most dominant inning as he struck out Katz looking, got Rhymes on a grounder to short and struck out Ibarra on three pitches.