Alabama and LSU began the battle Thursday evening and finished early Friday morning. The teams return to action at 3 p.m. CDT Friday, a game that was moved up to avoid the threat of predicted evening storms.
“I told the guys I’m proud of the way that they played,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “They played their tails off all night, but that’s baseball. There were a few inches here and there on both sides that could have decided the game, but I felt like both teams competed like crazy and night. It’s one of those games you hate to lose.”
LSU improved to 25-5 overall and 6-4 in Southeastern Conference play while the Tide fell to 15-13 and 4-6.
It was a game of comebacks for the Tide, which had a 1-0 lead going to the ninth inning on the strength of a Mikey White home run in the first and outstanding pitching by Taylor Taylor Gilbeau, who had given up just three hits in eight shutout innings. But Gilbeau faltered in the ninth, giving up a pair of hits, and those runners would eventually score to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
LSU starter Jared Poché also went eight innings allowing only three hits, but one was the monster home run by White. Neither starter, of course, figured in the decision.
Tigers third baseman Conner Hale’s triple provided the winning margin. The dagger into the heart of a team frequently is allowing bases on balls and the Tide gave up a pair (one intentional) in the 16th. Hale’s three-bagger that just got under the glove of Tide left fielder Chandler Avant brought them in, and Hale’s run on a sacrifice fly provided the final margin.
Alabama worked to try to extend the game yet again, but with two men on, the Tigers ended the game on a groundout.
The two teams used a combined 14 pitchers, seven each.
LSU led off the ninth with a double by Alex Bergman followed by a single by Hale to end Guilbeau’s evening. Kade Scivicque’s single gave LSU a 2-1 lead going to the bottom of the ninth.
Alabama responded. Georgie Salem, who had an outstanding catch in center field early in the game, tripled to right field to lead off the inning. White’s sacrifice fly sent the game into extra innings.
Both teams were blanked in the 10th, but the 11th inning produced four total runs. With a man on in the 11th, LSU’s Conner homered to center field to put the Tigers ahead going into the Tide’s half of the inning.
Alabama again countered, but would ultimately be disappointed. With bases loaded, Kyle Overstreet worked a walk to bring in one for Alabama. In the next at-bat, a balk by the LSU reliever brought across the tying run. Bama, however, left the bases loaded and the score 4-4.
The 12th produced no runs for either team, but each team would add one more run apiece to the game’s total in the 13th. The Tigers knocked a one-out single, and then a double down the line brought across the go-ahead run. Alabama countered in the home half when Overstreet singled up the middle with two on to knot things up again, 5-5.
In the 14th and 15th innings, both squads had baserunners but could not produce any runs to send it to the 16th, where LSU would secure the win.
“We made some great plays, but you have to tip your hat to them; they made some plays when they needed to,” Gaspard said. “It was back and forth for both teams, but I was proud of the way our guys stuck with it all night.” The contest was the longest time of game in recorded Alabama baseball history, eclipsing the previous high of 4:55 vs. LSU on April 20, 2013. In that game, the Crimson Tide fell, 11-8 in 16 innings. The Crimson Tide’s top-three longest games in its history are now all against LSU (also, 4:30 vs. LSU on April 3, 2005 – W, 5-4 in 13 innings).