BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Alex Bregman drove in two runs on three hits, including a solo home run, and LSU won the NCAA tournament's Baton Rouge regional with a 5-1 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday night.
LSU senior left-hander Brent Bonvillain (3-0) yielded one run through 5 1-3 innings. Reliever Nick Rumbelow came in and retired eight straight, striking out four, while the Tigers (55-9) pulled away to clinch a super regional appearance at home next weekend against Oklahoma, the winner of the Blacksburg (Va.) regional.
Forced into a starting role by the suspension of sophomore Cody Glenn last week for a violation of team rules, Bonvillain wound up turning in one of the best outings of his career, allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out three.
"I have no idea where it came from. I just went out there and tried to have fun," Bonvillain said. "It's hard to put into words, winning an NCAA regional with LSU, a team that I've always dreamed of playing with and always looked up to because I lived in Louisiana."
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said he planned to consult his players Monday on whether to reinstate Glenn for the super regional.
Raph Rhymes had three hits in the regional final, including a two-run single to right-center in the sixth that gave the Tigers a 4-1 lead against ULL (43-20).
"That was a time in the game where I needed to step up," Rhymes said. "I got a curveball and went the other way with it."
Bregman was named the regional's most outstanding player and Rhymes to the all-regional team. Mainieri was relieved to see both players performing well in the clinching game after their collision in shallow left field on Friday knocked both out of LSU's NCAA opener. Bregman, a shortstop, went to the hospital to be checked for possible facial fractures, while Rhymes, a left fielder, needed three stitches in his upper lip.
"It shows not only the toughness mentally but also the toughness physically that those two kids had. That was a pretty nasty collision," Mainieri said. "You can see how fortunate we were that they did play because it's hard to win without those two guys. You can coach all you want, but it's a heck of a lot easier to coach with good players, and those two kids are outstanding players and were both very vital in our victory."