Connor Hale's RBI double ignited a five-run eighth inning as LSU defeated Tennessee 9-4 in the rubber game of its Southeastern Conference series Sunday afternoon at The Box.
HOW THEY SCORED
Tennessee second inning - Nathaniel Maggio singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Schultz. Maggio went to third on a passed ball by Kade Scivicque. After a walk to Derek Lance, Maggio scored on a sacrifice fly to centerfielder Andrew Stevenson by Will Maddox. TENNESSEE 1, LSU 0
LSU second inning - Sean McMullen doubled and advanced to third on Jake Fraley's ground out to the second baseman. After Tyler Moore was hit by a pitch, McMullen scored on a sacrifice fly to the leftfielder by Hale. TENNESSEE 1, LSU 1
Tennessee fourth inning - Taylor Smart walked. After Maggio struck out, Smart moved to second on Schultz's ground out to the second baseman Hale. Smart scored on a single by Derek Lance. TENNESSEE 2, LSU 1
LSU fourth inning - Alex Bregman singled and went to third on a double by McMullen. Bregman scored on Fraley's ground out to the second baseman. After Moore walked, McMullen scored on a single by Hale. LSU 3, TENNESSEE 2
LSU fifth inning - With one out, Mark Laird doubled. Laird moved to third on Bregman's ground out to the shortstop and scored on a wild pitch by Nick Williams. LSU 4, TENNESSEE 2
Tennessee eighth inning - Nick Senzel doubled and went to third when the ball got past the leftfielder Fraley. Senzel scored on a single by Vincent Jackson. A sacrifice bunt by Smart moved Jackson to second. Jackson advanced to third on a throwing error by third baseman Christian Ibarra and scored on a sacrifice fly by Schultz. TENNESSEE 4, LSU 4
LSU eighth inning - Fraley walked. After pinch-hitter Jared Foster fouled off a bunt with two strikes, Fraley scored on a double by Hale. After a wild pitch by Jace Peterson, Scivicque walked. Hale scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Ibarra, who reached safely when pitcher Trevor Bettencourt misplayed the ball. Stevenson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pinch-runner Chris Sciambra scored when Laird forced Stevenson at second base with a ground ball to the second baseman. Ibarra scored and Laird advanced to second on a wild pitch by Bettencourt. Laird scored on a single by Bregman. LSU 9, TENNESSEE 4
LSU WASTED SCORING OPPORTUNITIES
Sixth inning - Fraley singled. Moore flied out to the rightfielder and Hale flied out to the centerfielder. After Fraley stole second, Scivicque walked. Both Fraley and Scivicque moved up a base on a wild pitch by Bret Marks. Ibarra flied out to the rightfielder.
Seventh inning - With one out, Laird singled and stole second base. Bregman flied out to the leftfielder and McMullen grounded out to the second baseman.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Hale delivered the most important hit of the game with his tie-breaking double with one out in the eighth inning. LSU scored four more runs following Hale's two-bagger to take a five-run lead. Ironically, the double came off the lefthanded pitcher Bettencourt. Hale had not been in the lineup against southpaw pitchers recently. Hale went 2-for-3 and drove in a season-high three runs. Hale had a sacrifice fly in the second and a RBI single in the fourth.
Last weekend, Alden Cartwright gave LSU four shutout innings in the rubber game of the series at Ole Miss. Cartwright was far less effective Sunday against Tennessee. He permitted five base runners - three hits and two walks - in two innings. Cartwright barely escaped trouble in the first when Smart flied out to the wall in leftfield with the bases loaded and two out. The Vols scored an unearned run in the second thanks to a passed ball by Scivicque. Cartwright, who had walked three batters in 20.2 innings all season, issued two bases on balls Sunday. He did not strike out a batter.
Hunter Devall only allowed one of the six batters he faced to reach base. Unfortunately, that one runner came around to score. Devall walked Smart, who went to second on a ground ball to Hale, who should have thrown to second base for the force out. That poor decision came back to cost the Tigers as Smart scored on a two-out pop-fly single by Land. Brady Domangue, who took over for Devall after the ground out, gave up the hit by Land. Domangue's day was over after he got Will Maddox to line out to Hale to end the fourth. Kyle Bouman had one clean inning and one mediocre inning while holding the Volunteers scoreless. He had a 1-2-3 fifth inning. However, Bouman walked two batters in the sixth. He got Lance to hit into a force out with two runners on base and two out in the sixth. Zac Person worked a scoreless seventh thanks to a 3-6-3 double play off the bat of Christin Stewart. Kurt McCune couldn't hold a 4-2 lead in the eighth. He was hurt by a couple of errors - one in leftfield by Fraley on Senzel's double and a throwing error by Ibarra on Maggio's ground ball. Tennessee scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Schultz. McCune got credit for his second victory of the season when LSU scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth. Joe Broussard gave up two hits, one on a pop-up lost in the sun by Ibarra, in the ninth. Broussard struck out one batter. No Tigers pitcher worked more than two innings.
Scivicque was the catcher with Hale at second base and Moore at first base. Fraley was the leftfielder with McMullen the designated hitter. . .McMullen extended his hitting streak to four games with a leadoff double in the second inning. McMullen matched his career high with two doubles in a game. He had a pair of doubles in one game twice last season. . .Bregman extended his hitting streak to four games with a single in the fourth. For the first time this season, Bregman collected a hit in each game of a SEC series. He had two hits in each game of the series against the Vols. . .Laird extended his hitting streak to eight games with a fifth-inning double. He is 14-for-35 in the last eight games. The eight-game hitting streak matches the longest of Laird's career. He hit safely in eight consecutive games last season. . .Fraley has a five-game hitting streak after singling to open the sixth. . .Stevenson, who went 0-for-4, had his five-game hitting streak end. . .Williams, Tennessee's starting pitcher, gave up four runs and six hits in 5.1 innings. . .The fielding error by Bettencourt on Ibarra's bunt led to three unearned runs in the eighth inning. . .LSU stranded six runners, four in scoring position. The Tigers were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. . .Senzel and Stewart combined for five of Tennessee's nine hits. Senzel had three hits, including two doubles. . .LSU is 33-11-1 overall, 12-8-1 in the SEC. The Tigers are in fourth place in the overall league standings - 2½ games behind Florida. . .Tennessee is 26-16 overall, 8-13 in the SEC. The Vols are in 12th place in the SEC standings. The top 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament. . .The paid attendance was 10,648. The actual attendance was 5,582. The actual attendance for the three-game series was 21,763 - the highest for a weekend series this season.
FROM THE CLUBHOUSE
"This was an unbelievably hard-fought weekend series in the SEC. I was so glad that it was at home. This was really a critical win for us. There was no fluke about the series. Tennessee is really a good team. They are the best hitting team we have faced all year. They are very disciplined at the plate and they are hard to pitch to. It was a credit to our kids that we held them to four runs today."
"Pitching has carried the team all year. (Aaron) Nola didn't have his best game and some guys out of the bullpen didn't have their best games, but we made up for it. Our approach at the plate was fantastic. We got the leadoff batter on and advanced runners. We got clutch hits. I thought we might have to score ten runs to win today with the wind blowing out. If we got behind, we couldn't get discouraged. If we got ahead, we couldn't get complacent. Tennessee had a run in them. Fortunately, they only tied the score and did not get the lead (in the eighth)."
"(On my eighth-inning at-bat), I wanted to take until I got a strike. He threw me a curve on the first pitch and it was a ball. So, I figured he would throw me a fast ball on the next pitch. He did and I got the barrel on it. I hit a fast ball down the leftfield line. I have never had problems with lefthanded pitchers before. I don't know why I have had trouble this year. I have started to open up my stance a little bit, so I could see the ball longer. I feel more relaxed at the plate. Nothing was easy this weekend. Tennessee didn't have the greatest record. After this series, I am surprised at what their record is. They can hit the ball. This was a tough three-game series."
LSU will play host to Alcorn State at The Box on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The Braves (8-36), who have not won a non-conference game this year, swept a doubleheader from Mississippi Valley State on Saturday. The Sunday game was postponed by rain. Mainieri is undecided on the Tigers' starting pitcher.