The LSU baseball team had to lean on its hitting to overcome deficits and erratic pitching and defense to win the first two games on the Baton Rouge Regional.
But on Sunday night it was the Tigers pitching that allowed them to play from ahead and defeat Louisiana-Lafayette 5-1 and advance to a super regional against Oklahoma next weekend at Alex Box Stadium.
Senior left-hander Brent Bonvillain (3-0) pitched a career-high 5.1 innings and allowed just one unearned run. Nick Rumbelow struck out the first two batters he faced to strand a runner at third in the sixth and start a perfect 2.2-inning stint. Chris Cotton pitched a perfect ninth.
ULL starter Cody Boutte (8-4), who started but threw just 29 pitches in the Cajuns’ 7-5 victory against Sam Houston State in an elimination game earlier in the day, started again and was much more effective against the Tigers.
LSU stranded seven runners through four innings of a scoreless game before taking advantage of Boutte’s wildness to score a run with two out in the fifth.
Mason Katz walked, went to second on Boutte’s wild pitch and moved to third when Raph Rhymes fisted a blooper that ticked off Boutte’s glove for a single.
Christian Ibarra battled back from an 0-2 count to walk and load the bases and Ty Ross walked on four straight pitches to force in the run on Boutte’s 104th and final pitch of the game.
The Tigers extended the lead against Cord Cockrell in the sixth. With one out Mark Laird and JaCoby Jones had consecutive singles. Alex Bregman singled home Laird and took third on the throw to the infield. Rhymes singled home Jones and Bregman to make it 4-0.
Bonvillain already had surpassed his career-long outing of 4.2 innings when Bregman misplayed Dex Kjerstad’s grounder to short leading off the bottom of the sixth. Jace Conrad doubled home Kjerstad, then stole third.
Blake Trahan hit a pop-up into shallow right-center, where Andrew Stevenson made a diving catch and jumped to his feet before Conrad could tag.
Bonvillain then left to a standing ovation and the bullpen took it from there.
Bregman’s solo homer increased the lead to 5-1 in the eighth.
Bonvillain hadn’t pitched since throwing four innings and allowing two runs in a start as the Tigers defeated Vanderbilt 5-4 in 11 innings in the Southeastern Conference Tournament seven days earlier.
He got the Cajuns in order in the first, allowing just a leadoff single in the second, having a 1-2-3 third and giving up a two-out single in the fourth.
Bonvillain allowed a leadoff walk in the fifth but after a sacrifice bunt got the nest two hitters.
Boutte had to work out of trouble. With two outs in the first Bregman walked and Katz doubled him to third before Rhymes flied to center.
Christian Ibarra walked leading off the second, but Boutte got the next three batters in order. With one out in the third, Jones walked and Bregman singled him to second, but Boutte got Katz on a pop-up and Rhymes on a liner to center.
With two outs in the fourth Alex Edward doubled and Stevenson was hit by a pitch before Boutte struck out Laird.