LSU Gold

LSU Falls in Chapel Hill Regional to UNC, 4-3

LSU, which won 10 of its final 13 games, completed its season with a 43-23 record.

by Bill Franques
Box Score Press Conference +0
LSU Falls in Chapel Hill Regional to UNC, 4-3

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina second baseman Alex Madera lined the go-ahead single in the top of the 10th inning Monday night as the Tar Heels posted a 4-3 win over LSU in the championship game of the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional.

North Carolina, which advances to the NCAA Super Regional this weekend versus West Virginia, is 45-14 this season. LSU completed its season with a 43-23 record.

UNC reliever Dalton Pence (4-1) earned the win, as he worked the final 3.2 innings and limited the Tigers to no runs on one hit with two walks and four strikeouts.

LSU left-hander Gage Jump (6-2), who entered the game at the start of the ninth inning, was charged with the loss, as he allowed two runs – one earned – on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

“We held the national championship trophy last year,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “I’m equally proud of my team and our program today as I was that day. Where we were in the middle of SEC play to right now epitomizes the character of this team. It is one of the most gratifying coaching years of my entire life. I love these guys. The achievement, the accomplishment – that’s obviously what we’re here to do. I have a broken heart just simply because I wanted to go to practice on Wednesday.”

LSU senior right-hander Will Hellmers entered the game in the second inning and pitched brilliantly, firing 5.2 shutout innings with two hits, two walks and four strikeouts.

“This is special right here what Will Hellmers did tonight,” Johnson said. “He is an elite pitcher. Somebody should sign him. If anybody in professional baseball is paying attention, sign Will Hellmers.”

“The past four years have meant so much to me,” Hellmers said. “Going out like that, obviously nobody wants to walk away with tears in their eyes and a broken heart. It means a lot to me to just give us a chance in those five innings I threw. That’s all I was trying to do, just give us a chance because whoever we turned it over to I had the utmost
confidence in.”

North Carolina plated two runs in the top of the first inning, as rightfielder Anthony Donofrio drew a bases-loaded walk and a second run scored when designated hitter Alberto Osuna grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.

The Tigers narrowed the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the first when third baseman Tommy White singled, advanced to second when first baseman Jared Jones was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on leftfielder Josh Pearson’s groundout.

LSU tied the game 2-2 in the third on a solo homer by centerfielder Jake Brown, his fourth dinger of the season.

The Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the third when Jones launched his 28th homer of the season.

LSU maintained the 3-2 advantage until the top of the ninth inning, when third baseman Gavin Gallaher led off the frame with a double and later scored on shortstop Colby Wilkerson’s single.

With two outs and nobody on in the top of the 10th inning, first baseman Johnny Castagnozzi reached second base when his fly ball was misplayed in the outfield. After Gallaher was intentionally walked, Madera slapped a single up the middle, scoring pinch runner Jackson Van De Brake.

Pence retired the first two LSU hitters in the bottom of the 10th before Jones reached on a walk and Pearson flied out to center field to end the game.

2024 Chapel Hill Regional
All-Tournament Team

Catcher – Alex Milazzo, LSU
First Base – Jared Jones, LSU
Second Base – Steven Milam, LSU
Third Base – Gavin Gallaher, UNC (Most Outstanding Player)
Shortstop – Michael Braswell III, LSU
Left Field – Josh Pearson, LSU
Center Field – Andrew Mannelly, Wofford
Right Field – Anthony Donofrio, UNC
Designated Hitter – Alberto Osuna, UNC
Pitcher – Griffin Herring, LSU
Pitcher – Dalton Pence, UNC

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