The voodoo ran out.
LSU blew a four-run lead in the eighth inning, and Houston scored the go-ahead run in the 11th to beat the Tigers 5-4 and force a decisive game Monday for the Baton Rouge regional crown.
Kyle Survance’s RBI single to left field in the top of the 11th brought home the winning run, capping a wild affair at Alex Box Stadium and ending LSU’s 10-game winning streak.
The teams meet again at 7 p.m. Monday in a winner-take-all game, and true freshman Alden Cartwright, a Runnels High grad, is likely to start for LSU.
The Tigers (46-15-1) held a 1-0 lead for much of the game and took a 4-0 advantage in the seventh, an inning that included a two-run, inside-the-park home run from Tyler Moore.
Playing a fourth game in 72 hours and a second on Sunday, the Cougars (47-16) tied it with four runs in the eighth, a nightmarish inning for reliever Kurt McCune. He was charged with all four runs.
“In the eighth inning, they put the bat on the ball,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “Ball kept finding holes. They came through with some big hits.”
In the top of the 11th, closer Joe Broussard, in his third inning on the mound, allowed back-to-back singles, setting up Survance’s short line drive into left field.
With that, LSU lost its first home regional game under Mainieri.
“It’s already flushed,” first baseman Tyler Moore said. “We’re already looking forward to tomorrow. No time to hang our heads. It’s win or go home tomorrow.”
Since the NCAA went to this postseason format in 1999, LSU is 8-0 in NCAA regionals when winning the first two games. The Tigers have been forced to a decisive game just one of those times.
Houston made it two with a wacky eighth-inning rally.
The Cougars loaded the bases with no outs. McCune allowed three singles and was charged for obstructing the first-base path on Michael Pyatt’s rolling grounder down the line.
Landon Appling took McCune’s last pitch over shortstop Alex Bregman’s head to make it 4-2. UH tied it on Caleb Barker’s two-run single up the middle off Nate Fury.
Fury retired the final two batters, but the damage was done.
“Today we know our season was on the line,” Barker said.
LSU stranded a runner in three of the first four innings. The Tigers left Andrew Stevenson on board in the ninth following his two-out single.
In the 10th, Alex Bregman, leading off the inning, hit a soaring shot to the warning track. UH center fielder Appling ran into the wall while making the catch.
The Tigers went down in order in the bottom of the 11th, and a small contingent of Houston fans roared to life among the 9,482 at the Box.
LSU and Houston will meet for the third time in 48 hours Monday, a game that can be seen online at ESPN3.com. The Tigers won 5-1 on Saturday night; Houston beat Southeastern Louisiana 9-5 on Sunday afternoon to stay alive.
Each team is thin in pitching. Both have used their top three starters.
Houston has played one more game than LSU. UH has used 10 pitchers; five of them have tossed more than 40 pitches this weekend.
“We’ve got a few guys that can come back,” Houston coach Todd Whitting said. “We can throw ‘Johnny Wholestaff’ tomorrow. Might be one of those. We’ve got some guys we can recycle back.”
LSU has used seven of its 12 healthy pitchers. Cartwright, Brady Domangue, Hunter Devall, Henri Faucheux and Parker Bugg have gone unused in the three regional games.
A confident Cartwright is prepared to start a game in which Mainieri said will be “pieced together” on the mound.
“I’m getting the ball tomorrow night, and I can promise you we’re going to win that game,” Cartwright said.
Kade Scivicque had a solo home run in the second, and LSU added three runs in a wild seventh. Moore hit a rocket down the right-field line that got stuck between the field and the gate in the corner. Houston coaches protested to no avail, arguing for more than 10 minutes. It was ruled an inside-the-park home run.
Also in that inning, Bregman had an RBI double, a pop fly that Houston couldn’t handle. LSU led 4-0 before the collapse.
The Tigers wasted an impressive outing from No. 3 starter Kyle Bouman. He allowed just two hits in his six-inning stay on the mound. Bouman, a junior college transfer from St. Louis, didn’t record a strikeout, and he walked two.
But after Survance began the game with a single up the middle, Bouman retired 17 of his next 21 batters.
“Couldn’t ask for anything more out of him,” Mainieri said.