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Four-Run Sixth Sends #13 LSU Past Big Green in Season Opener

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Sophomore Dustin Selzer     By Mike Janes
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BATON ROUGE, La. — In the season opener for the Dartmouth baseball team, the Big Green were able to collect 10 hits and four runs off of Kevin Gausman — a possible first-round pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft in June — but could not hold off 13th-ranked Louisiana State at Alex Box Stadium on Friday night as the Tigers rallied for four runs in the sixth to take the lead for good in an 8-4 defeat of the Green. Mason Katz had his third straight perfect day at the plate for LSU (8-2), going 3-for-3 with four runs to lead the Tigers to their third straight victory.

Half of the 10 hits for Dartmouth (0-1) were two-baggers, and the Green had three players each stroke a single and a double in the game. Sophomore Dustin Selzer was one of that quartet, and he scored both times he reached base.

Katz was the story of the game, however, drilling a single, double and home run while walking twice. He has now reached base 17 straight plate appearances, leaving him just one shy of tying the NCAA record held by Shaun Larkin of Cal State Northridge, set 10 years ago during the 2002 season. Raph Rhymes and Ty Ross each had three hits as well, the former of which drove in three runs including the game-winner.

After Katz crushed a solo blast to left-center in the fifth to tie the score at three, Dartmouth took the lead again in the sixth thanks to an unearned run. Selzer ripped a single up the middle to lead off the frame, took second and third on a wild pitch that the catcher then threw into center field, and scored on a single off the bat of junior Ennis Coble past a drawn-in infield.

Sophomore right-hander Louis Concato relieved starter Kyle Hunter to start the bottom half of the sixth, and yielded a one-out double to Ross before getting the second out on a grounder to short. But LSU would not be denied as Jared Foster tied the game with a double, then JaCoby Jones reached on a high chopper to third for an infield hit and Katz walked to load the bases. Rhymes took strike one before poking a ball past a diving Selzer at first for a two-run single and a 6-4 Tiger lead. LSU tacked on one more thanks to a passed ball.

Katz started the scoring in the first inning, lacing a two-out double and crossing the plate on Rhymes’ bouncer back through the box. In the top of the second, Dartmouth answered right back with three straight hits. Selzer led off with a booming double to right-center, Coble dropped in a single to center and sophomore Jeff Keller hit a 1-0 pitch over the right fielder’s head for a two-run double. Keller was thrown out, however, trying to take third on the relay throw to the plate, which was cut off by the first baseman Katz.

LSU touched Hunter for a solitary run in the third after Katz and Rhymes delivered one-out singles to put runners on the corners. After Rhymes advanced on a pitch in the dirt, Austin Nola chopped a nubber back to Hunter. But it was too high to keep Katz from scoring the tying run.

The Big Green reclaimed the lead in the fifth on senior David Turnbull’s flare just beyond a diving second baseman in shallow right-center to plate freshman Nick Lombardi who had collected his first collegiate hit with a lead-off double into the left-field corner. Dartmouth missed out on a bigger inning, though, after senior Jake Carlson followed with a single. But Gausman was able to bear down and retire the three hitters at the top of the order — two on strikes — to end the threat.

Katz was there in the Tiger half of the fifth to tie the score once again with that solo shot, his second four-bagger of the season.

The Tigers concluded the scoring in the seventh. Grant Dozer pulled a ball down the right-field line for a one-out, pinch-hit triple, then raced home ahead of the throw on Ross’ fly ball to medium right field.

Gausman (3-0) picked up his third win in as many starts, allowing all 10 Big Green hits, which equals a career high for the right-hander. Three of the four runs were earned, and he did not walk a batter while striking out six. Joey Bourgeouis retired five of the six batters he faced, walking one and fanning two, and Nick Goody tossed a perfect ninth to close out the game.

Hunter, who left with the 4-3 lead, did not get a decision after hurling five frames of three-run ball. He surrendered eight hits and one walk while whiffing three Tiger hitters. Concato (0-1) took the loss after yielding five runs, four earned, on five hits and base on balls with one punchout. Senior Max Langford struck out two and walked one — Katz — in his only inning of work.

Joining Selzer with two knocks were Carlson, Coble and Turnbull. Keller led Dartmouth with two RBIs.

Dartmouth will take on the Tigers in the second game of the three-game series tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. (EST).