Bama Drops Late Lead

LSU shortstop Michael Hollander's three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning gave the Tigers a dramatic 5-4 come-from-behind win over No. 25 Alabama in front of 5,462 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Friday night.

Hollander's game-winning home run came on a 1-2 pitch with two outs off Alabama sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter, who walked two previos base runners in the inning, to cap the LSU comeback.

Hollander was hitless in his first four at-bats in the game with two strikeouts and made one error that led to an unearned run in the sixth inning, before redeeming himself in the ninth.

"It's not so much one pitch, but the two walks to lead off the inning," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "They scored three of the five runs off walks."

Hunter and Alabama starter Miers Quigley walked seven LSU hitters in the loss.

Alabama (17-11, 3-4 SEC) took a two-run lead into the ninth on the strength of three solo home runs, but back-to-back walks to J.T. Wise and pinch-hitter Ryan Schrimpf proved costly for Hunter and the Tide.

Hunter then got Jared Mitchell to foul out and Chris McGee to ground out to second base following the two walks. Down to his last strike, Hollander then smashed a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right field to put LSU in front 5-4.

"We were trying to get the ball up in the zone," Wells said. "Hollander is very aggressive. We just did not get the ball up enough."

LSU (16-11-1, 2-4-1 SEC) then turned the game over to right-hander Jared Bradford, who had been the game two SEC starter against South Carolina and Kentucky the previous two weeks.

Alabama put the tying and winning runs in scoring position in the ninth inning against Bradford, but pinch-hitter Elvin Vargas struck out to end the game. Bradford, a native of Hueytown, Ala., pitched one inning and allowed one hit and one walk to earn his third save.

LSU senior left-hander Clay Dirks (2-1), who allowed a solo home run to Jake Smith in the eighth inning, picked up the win.

Hunter (2-3) took the loss after allowing three runs and two hits with two walks for his second straight loss.

Alabama and LSU combined for just 11 hits in the series opener, but hit five home runs, including four solo homers.

Quigley and LSU starter Charlie Furbush took no-hitters into the fourth inning before the Crimson Tide belted two home runs in the fourth to take a 2-0 lead.

Senior center fielder Emeel Salem led off the inning with his fifth home run of the season. Sophomore right fielder Kent Matthes followed with a two-out home run off the batter's eye in center field to make it 2-0. It was Matthes' team-leading seventh home run of the season.

LSU answered in the top of the fifth when Jordan Mayer blasted a solo home run to left field to cut the lead to 2-1. It was Mayer's third home run of the season.

Alabama extended its lead to 3-1 with an unearned run in the sixth inning. Smith was hit by a pitch with two outs to start the rally and sophomore designated hitter Alex Avila followed with a base hit to center field. Smith took second on the single and moved to third when Mitchell fell down in center field on the play. Matthes then reached on an error by Hollander to score Smith from third base.

LSU put two runners on base against Quigley in the eighth inning when McGee and Blake Dean drew walks. McGee drew a leadoff walk, while Dean's free pass came with one out.

Alabama turned to sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter to preserve the lead. After allowing an RBI single to Sean Ochinko, Hunter struck out Mayer and Steven Waguespack as the Tide held on to its 3-2 lead.

Smith's two-out solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning gave the Crimson Tide a 4-2 lead.

Alabama and LSU will meet again on Saturday, March 31 at 6:07 p.m. (CDT). The Crimson Tide will send senior right-hander Bernard Robert to the mound.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama fell to 1-6 in one-run games with Friday's loss. The Crimson Tide has a six-game losing streak in one-run games this season. Six of the Crimson Tide's last seven losses have been by one run.

*The Crimson Tide has lost three straight games for the second time this season. Bama also had a three-game losing streak against Nebraska (March 10-11) and Samford (March 14) earlier this month.

*Alabama matched its season high with three home runs against LSU. Bama also hit three home runs against Georgia State (Feb. 10) and Tennessee (March 16).

*Senior center fielder Emeel Salem (Mountain Brook) has reached base in all 28 games this season and extended his on-base streak to 41 consecutive games dating back to last season with his solo home run in the fourth inning. Salem also extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games.

*LSU starter Charlie Furbush recorded 10 strikeouts, marking the second time in three games an opposing pitcher has posted double figure strikeouts. Ole Miss right hander Lane Lynn also had 10 strikeouts March 24 against the Tide.

*Alabama sophomore left-hander Miers Quigley (Roswell, Ga.) walked a career-high five LSU batters in the game.

*Sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter (Indianapolis, Ind.) made his league-leading sixth relief appearance in SEC play against LSU.


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