Chris Sciambra's one-out, pinch-hit single drove in Jared Foster with the winning run in the 11th inning as LSU defeated Vanderbilt 5-4 in the championship game of the Southeastern Conference tournament Sunday at Hoover (Ala.) Metropolitan Stadium.
HOW THEY SCORED
LSU second inning - With one out, Christian Ibarra walked and moved to second on a single by Ty Ross. Foster singled to rightfield. When second baseman Tony Kemp made a wild relay throw, Ibarra scored. Foster and Ross advanced to second and third, respectively, on the error. An infield single by Andrew Stevenson drove home Ross. Foster scored on Sean McMullen's sacrifice fly to rightfield. LSU 3, VANDERBILT 0
Vanderbilt second inning - Connor Harrell singled and moved to third on a double by Conrad Gregor. Harrell scored on Zander Wiel's ground out to second baseman Casey Yocom. Vince Conde singled home Gregor. LSU 3, VANDERBILT 2
LSU fourth inning - Ibarra doubled and went to third on Ross' sacrifice bunt. Foster singled home Ibarra. LSU 4, VANDERBILT 2
Vanderbilt seventh inning - With one out, Harrell singled and advanced to third on a single by Gregor. After Gregor stole second base, Wiel was hit by a pitch. Conde singled home Harrell and Gregor. LSU 4, VANDERBILT 4
LSU 11th inning - With one out, Foster was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Sciambra pinch-hit for Stevenson and drove home Foster with a single. LSU 5, VANDERBILT 4
LSU WASTED SCORING OPPORTUNITIES
Eighth inning - Raph Rhymes walked. Ibarra popped out to second base and Ross popped out to third base. Foster was hit by a pitch. Stevenson stranded Rhymes in scoring position as he grounded out to second base.
Although Sciambra had the game-winning hit in the 11th, LSU would not have been in position to win the game in extra innings were it not for Foster. He reached base four times - twice on singles and twice on hit by pitches. Foster singled and scored a run in the second. Then, Foster singled home a run in the fourth. Foster was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored the winning run on Sciambra's single. Foster was 4-for-6 in his two starts in the tournament.
LSU STARTING PITCHER
Like Hunter Newman in the semifinal game against Arkansas, Brent Bonvillain gave the Tigers what was needed with his four solid innings. Bonvillain gave up two runs and five hits. Twice, he ended innings by getting Kemp, Vanderbilt's leading hitter, to ground out with a runner in scoring position. Bonvillain walked one and struck out one.
The Tigers bullpen couldn't hold a two-run lead as Nick Rumbelow gave up the tying runs in the seventh inning. But, four other LSU relievers - Nate Fury, Kurt McCune, Joey Bourgeois and Chris Cotton - held Vanderbilt scoreless over six innings. Fury needed two outstanding defensive plays to not give up a run in the fifth. First, Ross threw Mike Yastrzemski out trying to steal second. Then, with the bases loaded and two out, Stevenson ran down Conde's deep fly ball in left centerfield. McCune caught a line drive off the bat Xavier Turner with a runner on second and two out in the sixth. Rumbelow gave up three singles and hit two batters in the seventh. The Commodores didn't take the lead in that inning when Foster gunned down Wiel, who was attempting to score on Spencer Navin's fly ball to rightfield. A leadoff walk got Bourgeois in trouble in the eighth. With runners at first and second and one out, Bourgeois struck out Harrell and got Gregor to ground out to Yocom at second base. When Bourgeois yielded a one-out single by Conde in the ninth, it was time for Cotton. Eight batters who came to the plate against Cotton were retired. Cotton picked up his fourth victory of the season.
The SEC tournament title was No. 10 for LSU, including two Western Division tournament championships and one co-championship with Mississippi State in 1990 when the title game was rained out. . .Coach Paul Mainieri has led the Tigers to four SEC tournament titles in his seven years. In two of those seasons, LSU didn't qualify for the SEC tournament. . .Cotton was named the tournament Most Valuable Player. He finished with three saves and one victory. Cotton retired all 17 batters he faced in the tournament. . .Cotton was joined on the all-tournament team by Foster, Ibarra and McMullen. . .Yocom made his first start of the tournament at second base with Mason Katz returning to his normal first base position. Foster started in rightfield. Tyler Moore wasn't in the lineup because Vanderbilt started a lefthanded pitcher. . .Foster extended his hitting streak to five games with his second-inning single. . .The Tigers had ten hits with the bottom four spots in the lineup responsible for seven. . .Both Foster, the No. 8 hitter, and Stevenson, the No. 9 hitter, had two hits. Stevenson had his first multiple-hit game since the Texas A&M contest on May 11. Stevenson was 2-for-21 since that game against the Aggies. . .Vanderbilt starter Philip Pfeifer gave up four runs and nine hits in 3.2 innings. . . Commodores relievers Adam Ravenelle and Brian Miller held LSU hitless from the fifth through the tenth innings. Sciambra's game-winning hit off Miller, Vanderbilt's closer who came on in the seventh, was the Tigers' only hit after the fourth inning. . .Not to be overlooked were two outstanding defensive plays in the outfield. Stevenson ran down Conde's fly ball with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth. Foster threw out Wiel, who was trying to score on a fly ball in the seventh. LSU is 52-9, while Vanderbilt is 51-9. The Tigers are 11-2 in one-run games and 7-1 in extra-inning games this year.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
Coach Paul Mainieri
"What a tremendous ball game between two teams fighting their hearts out to win. There was a lot at stake. It was the top two teams in the nation going against each other. This is the only time we've met this year. Our players wanted to win the game badly. We came out playing well. Our bullpen did a tremendous job. It looked like the game was going to go on forever. But, Jared stole a clutch base and Chris came through with the big hit."
(on performance on bench players) "People wonder why I play all the guys off the bench. I have confidence in them and I'm not afraid to play them because they are good ball players. All these guys want to be starting players. Sometimes positions aren't settled because I want to keep players on their toes and know that they are working for playing time. I won't hesitate to use them and I expect them to get the job done. Jared Foster and Chris Sciambra are examples of this."
(on defensive play by Andrew Stevenson) "Andrew is in the game to make catches like that. He is a very fast runner and gets great jumps on the ball. He has great instincts. He got us out of a jam and kept the lead for us at the time."
"We want to be ready in the dugout at any time coach (Mainieri) calls on us. We just try to stay in the game. We stay focused and try to give it our all. Everyone on the team did his job.
(on coming back from last year's neck injury) "After finding out how bad my injury was, I never thought about not playing again. I was just looking forward to when I would play again for the Tigers. I turned my attention to helping out the team. I never had any doubts in my mind about not playing for this team again."
"Four years ago, I didn't expect to be here. It's been a long journey. Playing for LSU has been a dream. It's been fun. We have four more weeks and we'll see how that goes."
"It was fun to get out there and play. I just have to stay ready. I just wanted to get the job done."
LSU will play its first round game in the Baton Rouge Regional at The Box on Friday. The opponent and the time of the game will be announced Monday.