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Courtesy: Tim Mueller
Freshman Nick Lombardi had two hits for the Big Green on Sunday.

Harsh Sun Helps #13 LSU Nip Dartmouth in Ninth

Courtesy: Dartmouth
Release: 03/04/2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. — Tyler Hanover lofted a fly ball to center field with two outs in the ninth, but the harsh sun kept center fielder Jake Carlson from catching it, and Austin Nola scored from first to lift 13th-ranked Louisiana State to a 5-4 win over visiting Dartmouth on Sunday afternoon. LSU (10-2) finished a three-game sweep of the Big Green (0-3), who were playing the first games of the season.

Tied at four in the ninth, rookie right-hander Thomas Olson was beginning his fourth inning of work. Olson fanned the hot-hitting Mason Katz to start the frame, and Raph Rhymes offered a pre-cursor of what was to come when he hit a fly to center that Carlson caught, but not without battling the sun and falling to his knees to make the catch. Nola stroked a 1-2 pitch over the second baseman’s head for a single, however, before Hanover’s fateful fly ball.

Dartmouth had fallen behind, 3-0, after three innings but battled back to take a 4-3 lead. Tiger starter Kurt McCune held the Big Green scoreless for four frames before Dartmouth broke through in the fifth. Sophomore Jeff Keller walked and freshman Nick Lombardi singled to start the inning, and after a strikeout, freshman Matt Robinson delivered a single into center field to plate Keller. One out later, another rookie came up with a big hit, this time Thomas Roulis with a double into the right-center gap for the Big Green’s second run to end McCune’s afternoon. Tiger reliever Joe Broussard stranded runners at second and third by getting the final out on strikes.

In the sixth, Dartmouth got a little two-out lightning when Keller singled, stole second and scored when Lombardi poked a single to left, tying the game at three. Robinson began the seventh with a base hit, took second on a Broussard wild pitch and third on a Joe Sclafani grounder to first. LSU summoned lefty Cody Glenn from the bullpen to turn Roulis around at the plate, but the strategy backfired as the rookie produced another run-scoring hit, this time a line single to right. Despite a stolen base, intentional walk and a wild pitch, Glenn did not allow another run to keep the Tigers within a run at 4-3.

After retiring the first five batters he faced in his collegiate debut, Olson gave up a double to Raph Rhymes — his fourth hit of the day. A wild pitch allowed Rhymes to scamper to third, which proved to be crucial as Nola hit a little spinner up the middle for an infield hit, tying the game.

The Tigers put a run on the board in the first inning when Katz ripped a two-out double off Big Green starter Michael Johnson and scored on Rhymes’ hard single through the left side. The damage could have been worse, but catcher Chris O'Dowd gunned down JaCoby Jones trying to steal third with Katz at the plate.

In the third, LSU got a lead-off double by Jones, moved to third on a Katz grounder to second and scored on a seeing-eye grounder up the middle past a drawn-in infield for an another RBI single for Rhymes. After Nola singled Rhymes to third, Hanover brought him home with a safety squeeze to make it a 3-0 game.

Both Rhymes and Nola collected four hits on the day, accounting for eight of the Tigers’ 13 hits.

Chris Cotton (1-0) earned the victory with 1.1 scoreless innings of relief. McCune yielded two runs on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts over his 4.2-inning start.

Olson (0-1) was the tough-luck loser, surrendering two runs on four hits and two walks while fanning three in 3.2 innings.

The three freshmen in the starting lineup — Roulis, Lombardi and Robinson — each had two hits. Roulis also drove in two runs and Keller scored twice.

Dartmouth doesn’t play again for 11 days due to winter term finals. On Thursday, March 15, the Big Green will begin a nine-game trip in California when they play at Sacramento State at 5 p.m. (EST). LSU will play next at Tulane on Tuesday, March 6, at 6:30 p.m. (CST).
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