Third baseman Josh Smith had two hits and made a big defensive play and Caleb Gilbert got a strikeout with the tying run on third base and two out in the ninth inning as LSU completed a three-game sweep of Georgia with a 7-6 victory in the opening Southeastern Conference series of the year.
HOW THEY SCORED
LSU third inning – Kramer Robertson singled. Cole Freeman reached safely on a throwing error by third baseman Aaron Schunk. Robertson advanced to third base as Antoine Duplantis hit into a 3-6-1 double play. Robertson scored on a single by Greg Deichmann. LSU 1, GEORGIA 0
Georgia fifth inning – With one out, LJ Talley was hit by a pitch. After Austin Biggar struck out, Will Proctor hit a two-run homer over the leftfield fence. GEORGIA 2, LSU 1
LSU fifth inning – Robertson was hit by a pitch and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Freeman. Duplantis and Deichmann walked to load the bases. Robertson scored on a walk to Zach Watson. After Jake Slaughter struck out, Duplantis scored on a walk to Smith. Deichmann scored on a bad-hop, infield single by Beau Jordan. LSU 4, GEORGIA 2
Georgia sixth inning – Cam Shepherd doubled and Keegan McGovern was hit by a pitch. Shepherd was forced at third base on a ground ball to the shortstop by Michael Curry. After Will Campbell flied out to the rightfielder, McGovern scored on a single by Schunk. LSU 4, GEORGIA 3
LSU sixth inning – Robertson, Freeman and Duplantis were hit by pitches to load the bases. Robertson scored on a sacrifice fly to the leftfielder by Deichmann. LSU 5, GEORGIA 3
Georgia seventh inning – Biggar singled and Proctor walked. Biggar and Proctor moved to third base and second base, respectively, on a sacrifice bunt by Tucker Maxwell. After Shepherd walked to load the bases, Biggar scored when McGovern was hit by a pitch. LSU 5, GEORGIA 4
LSU seventh inning – With one out, Jordan walked and went to second base on a wild pitch by Blakely Brown. After Michael Papierski struck out, Jordan scored and Robertson was awarded second base on a throwing error by the shortstop Shepherd. Robertson scored on a single by Freeman. LSU 7, GEORGIA 4
Georgia ninth inning – Biggar and Proctor singled. Biggar scored on a double by Maxwell. Proctor scored on a ground out to the second baseman by Shepherd. LSU 7, GEORGIA 6
KEY STRETCH OF GAME
LSU started the seventh inning with a 5-3 lead. Reliver Zack Hess allowed a single and a walk to begin the Georgia seventh. After a sacrifice bunt, relief pitcher Matt Beck issued a walk and hit a batter to reduce the Tigers’ advantage to one run. Michael Curry then hit a line drive a couple of feet to the left of Smith. However, Smith reached out and caught the liner and then threw an underhanded flip to Freeman to double the runner off second base. That defensive play permitted LSU to remain ahead of the Bulldogs.
KEY TEAM STATISTICS
Georgia outhit LSU 9-7. All seven Tigers hits were singles. . .The Bulldogs made four errors. A throwing error by the shortstop Shepherd led to two unearned LSU runs in the seventh. . .Georgia pitchers walked five and hit five Tigers batters. Only one of the LSU runners to score reached base on a hit. . .Tigers pitchers walked two and struck out nine. LSU pitchers hit four Bulldogs batters. Most of the hit batters came on curve balls. . .The Tigers stranded 11 runners – eight in scoring position. LSU was 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS
Kramer Robertson: 2-for-3, 4 runs scored
Josh Smith: 2-for-3, 1 RBI
Greg Deichmann: 1-for-3, 2 RBIs, 1 run scored
Eric Walker: 6 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 8 strikeouts
Will Proctor: 2-for-3, 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored, 1 home run
Austin Biggar: 2-for-4, 2 runs scored
Chase Adkins: 4.1 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 3 walks, 1 strikeout
LSU’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Smith, who was 0-for-5 in the first two games of the series, had a pair of singles. He drove in a run on a bases-loaded walk in the fifth. But, Smith made the most important play when he turned Curry’s line drive into an inning-ending double play in the seventh with the Tigers holding a 5-4 lead. Even though Smith had just two hits in the series, he drove home five runs.
Smith’s comments: “The four-hole hitter (Curry) was up. He had been a little late on some balls today. So, I took two steps to my left before the at-bat and it worked out. He hit the ball off the end of the bat. I caught the ball and thought about throwing overhand to second base. But, Cole (Freeman) was not at the bag yet. So, I gave him a soft underhanded toss. I have been trying to go back to basics at the plate and get back to like it was at the beginning of the year. Hitting comes and goes. You have to stay positive.”
Papierski was back in the lineup as the catcher after sitting out Saturday’s game. Jordan was the designated hitter. . .Four LSU players were hit a total of five times by Georgia pitchers – Robertson (twice), Slaughter, Freeman and Duplantis. In the series, Bulldogs pitchers hit 12 Tigers batters. Slaughter was hit five times. . .Deichmann, Jordan and Freeman had the only run-scoring hits for the Tigers. . .Jordan extended his hitting streak to six games with an infield single in the fifth. . .Walker delivered another quality start in picking up his third victory of the year. He protected LSU’s 4-3 lead by striking out Talley with two runners on base to end the sixth. . .Hess did not retire either of the two batters he faced. . .Beck allowed one of those two inherited runners to score. He retired Georgia in order in the eighth. . .Gilbert staggered to his second save of the series. He gave up two singles and a double to begin the ninth. Gilbert then retired the next three hitters – Shepherd and McGovern on ground balls and Curry on a strikeout. . . For the first time in 12 years, the Tigers opened SEC play with a three-game sweep. LSU won three games at Georgia in 2005. . . The Tigers have a 9-1-1 record in their last four series against the Bulldogs. One game in the 2015 series in Athens was cancelled due to rain. . .LSU is 16-5, while Georgia is 8-13. . .Six of the seven SEC series ended in sweeps – Kentucky over Texas A&M, Missouri over Alabama, South Carolina over Tennessee, Arkansas over Mississippi State, Auburn over Florida and LSU over Georgia. . .The paid attendance was 10,608. The actual crowd was slightly fewer than 6,000.
FROM THE LOCKERROOM
Coach Paul Mainieri’s comments: “I told the new guys after the game ‘welcome to the SEC.’ This is what every league game is like. Nothing comes easy. You have to scratch and claw for every victory. For a closer, the bottom line is to get the last out before the other team ties the game. That’s what Gilbert did. The three strikes he threw to Curry were as good of pitches as he could throw.”
LSU will play host to Southeastern Louisiana at The Box on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Central. The Lions lost to Lamar 13-5 on Sunday afternoon in Hammond. The loss ended SLU’s ten-game winning streak. The LSU-SLU game will be available on the SEC Digital Network.