Sean McMullen hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to give LSU a 2-0 victory against regular-season champion Florida in the championship game of the Southeastern Conference tournament Sunday afternoon at Hoover (Ala.) Metropolitan Stadium.
HOW THEY SCORED
LSU eighth inning - With one out Alex Bregman singled. Bregman was picked off first base by pitcher Ryan Harris. Jake Fraley singled and stole second base. McMullen hit a two-run homer over the rightfield fence. LSU 2, FLORIDA 0
LSU WASTED SCORING OPPORTUNITIES
Third inning - With one out, Christian Ibarra was hit by a pitch. Ibarra moved to second on a ground out to the shortstop by Mark Laird. Bregman struck out.
Fourth inning - With one out, McMullen walked. McMullen went to second on a ground out to the third baseman by Kade Scivicque. Tyler Moore flied out to the centerfielder.
Sixth inning - Laird and Bregman singled. Both runners moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Fraley. McMullen was intentionally walked. Scivicque hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
Seventh inning - Moore was hit by a pitch. Moore advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Conner Hale. Andrew Stevenson flied out to the centerfielder and Ibarra popped out to the second baseman.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER
McMullen had the big hit for the Tigers - a two-run homer in the eighth inning to snap a scoreless tie. The home run was the sixth of the year for McMullen, who had just two home runs in 2013. In his previous at-bat, McMullen was intentionally walked to load the bases. McMullen flied out and walked in his first two at-bats. McMullen had a hit in all four SEC tournament games. He was 5-for-12 in the tournament.
Alden Cartwright was in his normal Sunday starter role. Cartwright gave LSU four shutout innings for the second time this season. He blanked Ole Miss over four innings last month. Cartwright gave up just one hit - a two-out single by Braden Mattson in the fourth. He walked one man in each inning - the leadoff better three times. On two occasions, Cartwright got the next hitter to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play. Only once did Florida put a runner in scoring position off Cartwright, who had no strikeouts. In the first, Richie Martin walked and stole second. Cartwright got Harrison Bader to ground out to the shortstop Bregman and Taylor Gushue to fly out to the centerfielder Stevenson.
Nate Fury threw two scoreless innings in relief of Cartwright. He had thrown two scoreless innings on just one other occasion this season - March 5 against Sacred Heart. Fury allowed one base runner - Buddy Reed with a single in the fifth. Reed was thrown out trying to steal by Scivicque. Fury struck out one batter. Zac Person threw a perfect seventh inning with one strikeout. Kurt McCune tossed the final two innings as he picked up his fifth save of the year. McCune retired the side in order in the eighth with one strikeout. He walked the leadoff batter in the ninth, but got Martin to hit into a double play - the third of the game for LSU. McCune ended the game by getting Bader to ground out to the first baseman Moore.
LSU utilized its normal lineup against a righthanded pitcher. Moore was the first baseman with Hale at second base. Scivicque was the catcher with Fraley in leftfield and McMullen the designated hitter. . .The Tigers had just six hits, two by Bregman. . .Scivicque now has a four-game hitting streak after singling in the second inning. . .Hale, who went 0-for-3, had his five-game hitting streak end. . .LSU stranded six runners, five in scoring position. The Tigers were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. . .Karsten Whitson was spectacular in his start for Florida. A first-round draft choice out of high school, Whitson has been a victim of numerous arm injuries the past two years. He cooled the LSU bats with six shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked three and struck out one. Whitson was replaced after hitting Moore to open the seventh. . .Harris gave up the game-winning homer by McMullen. . .The shutout was the nation-leading 17th of the season for the LSU pitching staff. . .The shutout was just the fourth in the SEC tournament title game. The others were by Vanderbilt against Auburn in 1980, Florida against Vanderbilt in 2011 and Mississippi State against Vanderbilt in 2012. . .LSU has won 11 SEC tournament championships. Mississippi State and Alabama are next with seven. . .With Paul Mainieri as coach, the Tigers have been in six SEC tournaments. They have won the championship five times. . .LSU, which has matched its longest winning streak of the season at eight, is 44-14-1. Florida is 40-21. . .The paid attendance was 10,188.
FROM THE CLUBHOUSE
"This was another thrilling SEC tournament championship. This never gets old. Our players just love it here. It brings out the best in us. There isn't anything bad that happens with winning a championship. We hope they have the same experience next weekend. We're feeling good about ourselves."
"I wasn't feeling pressure at all. I was just looking around and seeing what I was a part of. When I came to bat, I realized it was going to be the last at-bat in this stadium. This is such a beautiful facility. I grew up dreaming of playing for the LSU Tigers. For this to happen is surreal."
LSU will play a first-round game in a NCAA regional Friday at The Box. The NCAA tournament bracket will be released Monday at 11 a.m. on ESPNU. LSU is expected to be one of the eight national seeds.