COLUMBIA, Mo. — LSU had 12 innings and nearly four hours to lock down a spot in the Women’s College World Series on Sunday afternoon, but an extra-innings meltdown sent the super regional with No. 9 seed Missouri to a third and final game.
LSU gave up four runs in the 12th to fall 5-1 to the hometown Tigers, and they’ll battle again in a winner-take all finale Sunday evening.
Game 2 delivered the kind of performance that was expected in Saturday’s series opener. The teams each scored a run in the third — Missouri on a fielder’s choice and LSU on a sacrifice fly — and then pitching and defense took over.
LSU starter Brittany Mack struck out 17, and she and MU ace Chelsea Thomas combined to retire 17 straight batters during a stretch from the seventh to 10th innings. Thomas sat down 15 of the last 16 she faced.
Missouri finally broke it open in the 12th, in a fashion befitting the offensive struggles that both teams faced.
Jenna Marston struck out but advanced to first when the ball got away from the catcher, and Ashley Fleming followed with a single up the middle that moved her to third. Fleming reached second on an errant throw in from the outfield, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with no outs for Angela Randazzo.
Randazzo poked a slow roller to third, where LSU’s Tammy Wray fielded it and threw home.
The throw was low and ricocheted to the backstop, giving all three Mizzou base-runners time to race around and score. Randazzo came home soon after on a grounder to short, when she beat the throw to the plate.
That spoiled a masterful day for Mack, who had held Missouri to just one run on six hits through the first 11 innings of the longest start of her season.
It was also the longest start of the year for Thomas, who moved past a shaky start to put the clamps on LSU.
As the designated home team, LSU came to the plate five times with a chance to walk off with a berth in the WCWS but couldn’t get anything going.
LSU’s five hits came on infield singles, and when the Tigers did hit the ball hard, it was right at a Mizzou player. A.J. Andrews hit a sharp liner in the seventh, Juliana Santos ripped one down the third base line in the eighth, and Tammy Wray slammed a deep fly ball to center in the ninth, but all were caught to end the inning.
In the 10th, Simone Heyward hit a solid line drive to left field, but Kayla Kingsley came over to make a diving catch that ended that frame as well.
All six runs in the game were unearned.
If there’s a silver lining for LSU, it’s this: Thomas will have to throw again after 11 long innings, while LSU will toss out ace Rachele Fico (19-11, 0.92 ERA), who presided over a 6-1 win on Saturday.