COLLEGE BASEBALL: Mendoza lifts FSU past LSU for CWS berth

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His base hit in 12th powers Seminoles to 5-4 victory

BATON ROUGE, La.

Drew Mendoza’s two-out base hit to right center drove home Mike Salvatore from second base in the bottom of the 12th inning, lifting Florida State to a 5-4 victory over LSU that sent the Seminoles to the College World Series on Sunday night.

LSU (40-26) had rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the sixth to tie it in the eighth and force extra innings, during which Tigers relievers pitched six no-hit innings and struck out 10 before Salvatore broke through for Florida State’s first hit since the fourth inning. Salvatore advanced to second base on a passed ball and, after Fontenot (5-4) struck out Reese Albert for the second out, LSU elected to pitch to Mendoza — one of the Seminoles’ most productive hitters — with first base open.

Mendoza delivered with his second hit of the game, and the Seminoles (41-21) spilled onto the field to celebrate a victory that sends 40th-year head coach Mike Martin back to Omaha for the 17th time since he took over the program. The CWS berth also comes in what Martin has said will be his last season.

Florida State reliever Antonio Velez (5-2) pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings in relief and struck out six to pick up his second win of the best-of-three Baton Rouge super regional after his inning of relief earned him the Game 1 win a day earlier. Salvatore produced three hits and drove in a run before scoring the game-winner.

Florida State scored the game’s first run on a disputed play in which the ball squirted out of LSU catcher Saul Garza’s glove as he swung his arm upward after appearing to tag Robby Martin out at the plate. Home plate umpire Tony Norris initially called Martin out, but the call was reversed after he consulted the rest of the umpiring crew and looked at the play on video replay.

The Seminoles seized the opportunity, scoring twice more in the frame on singles by Matheu Nelson and Salvatore.

Antoine Duplantis had four hits and drove in three runs for LSU, including a home run down the right field line that cut LSU’s deficit to 3-1 in the fourth.

Florida State made it 4-1 half an inning later when Tim Becker’s double over third base drove in Nelson, who’d advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Duplantis singled in a run in the sixth, and LSU had the tying runs in scoring position when Giovanni DiGiacomo was picked off of third by Nelson, stalling the rally.

But LSU tied it in the eighth with a rally that opened with Josh Smith’s double, followed by Duplantis’ double that scored Smith and drove starter CJ Van Eyk from the game. Watson drove in Duplantis with the tying run on a single off Mendoza’s glove, but Watson committed yet another LSU base running mistake when he was thrown out trying to take second as the ball was thrown back to the infield.

 

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