Some quick thoughts from LSU's grueling 7-1 win against Oregon State.
Overview: When the matchup of Tigers (45-16) against Beavers (39-19) was decided during Friday night's opening round, the assumption was the two squads would grind through a low-scoring pitching duel. LSU brought its all-everything ace in Kevin Gausman, and Oregon State countered with righty Dan Child and his impressive 2.75 ERA.
Gausman gave himself something to sweat over during every trip to the mound in his eight innings of work. The sophomore labored to a massive pitch count, as he threw 61 pitches in the first three innings on the way to 129 total pitches for the night. The SEC's strikeout king didn't rack up many K's, either, as he punched out just three batters.
That said, Gausman stubbornly refused to allow Oregon State runners across home plate. The Beavers managed one run in the third inning when Gausman gave up three straight base hits. After that, however, he only allowed one runner to reach third base. He stranded 10 Oregon State runners on the base paths.
Child frustrated LSU batters and the Tigers' fans all night with his uncharacteristically slow delivery and his penchant to run up the count. He allowed seven hits and four earned runs, but he made LSU work for all of them with small-ball tactics.
LSU opened the scoring with a two-run second inning. Ty Ross and Grant Dozar started the rally with a pair of base hits, and Tyler Hanover got the Tigers on the board with a sacrifice. Austin Nola then delivered his third RBI of the weekend to score Dozar and take a 2-1 lead.
The hits kept coming in the next frame, with Ross and Dozar once again proving the catalysts. With Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes on base, Ross hit a sacrifice of his own to bump the score to 3-1. Dozar followed him with a one-RBI knock to create a 4-1 lead the Tigers would cling to for most of the game.
Turning point: Gausman held serve with the three-run lead for four innings. But the LSU offense came through in the late innings to make it a more relaxed affair.
LSU added one in the bottom of the sixth when Arby Fields scored from third on a wild pitch. But it was Nola who delivered the back-breaker in the form of a RBI triple in the eighth inning to score Fields and take a 6-1 lead. When Nola scored on another wild pitch -- the Beavers' fourth of the night -- it was 7-1 and all but over.
Key player: Gausman was far from his usual, dominant self against the Beavers. But the future first-round draft pick could not be phased by the stingy Oregon State offense. The Beavers had success against him in nearly every inning, whether they managed hits or drew walks. But they couldn't maintain any of it, allowing him to last eight innings despite an unusually high pitch count.
Key stat: Thanks to Gausman's poise, the LSU defense combined to strand 10 runners.
Miscellaneous: After some glaring concerns in his last four appearances, closer Nick Goody got back into his groove in the win. He didn't earn a save, but Goody sat the Beavers down in order to end the game. He struck out two of the three batters he faced.
Up next: The Beavers plays Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday afternoon in an elimination game. The winner gets a rematch with LSU at 6:30 p.m.