NCAA Baseball Tournament: LSU 2, Oklahoma 0 -- The Hits That Might Decide the Baton Rouge Super Regional

File - USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers take a two-run lead late and hold on for the win. Is the Baton Rouge Super Regional all but over?

I'm not going to try to convince you to like baseball -- odds are that if you're reading this post, you probably already do. And so you know that Friday night's game in the Baton Rouge Super Regional was everything that's great about the game: a tightly fought pitchers duel that broke open in the space of four batters and was decided. At this point, the only real question is whether three hitters ended the series as well as the game.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves a bit. Because this game was all about the pitchers, and both were spectacular tonight. Even Jonathan Gray, who gave up the first run of the night (and the only one LSU would need), spun a gem. He scattered three of the hits he allowed over 7.1 innings before giving up back-to-back hits that changed the game. Gray also walked a pair and struck out nine.

Aaron Nola, though, was better. The Sooners managed just two hits in Nola's complete game shutout. He struck out six men and walked no one. (He did hit one man, if you want to count free bases overall.) Nola sometimes gets compared to Greg Maddux, and his performance Friday night shows why; even without a ton of strikeouts, he made it almost impossible for Oklahoma's batters to get on base.

As for the fateful eighth, there was no way for Gray or anyone else to see it coming. Gray's pitch count was starting to get elevated, but he's been a workhorse for Oklahoma before. In fact, he had just collected that ninth strikeout when JaCoby Jones tripled to right center, followed immediately by a Tyler Moore double. Even then, the 1-0 lead looked insurmountable. When Mark Laird knocked pinch runner Jared Foster in with a single, almost everyone knew that would more than enough for Nola.

And maybe for LSU in the series. Oklahoma really needed a win from Gray in this one, if for no other reason than the fact that their offense is not as deep as LSU's. If the Sooners can't win with their best pitcher on the mound, it's hard to see them winning too more -- though their second-best guy, Dillon Overton, will get an opportunity to show Saturday night that he's pretty good as well. And it's useful to remember that baseball can change in an instant, as it did for Oklahoma late in Friday night's game.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Team Speed Kills

You must be a member of Team Speed Kills to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Team Speed Kills. You should read them.

Join Team Speed Kills

You must be a member of Team Speed Kills to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Team Speed Kills. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker