LSU Takes Series Over Bama

Steven Waguespack's three-run double in the top of the first inning matched Alabama's run production for the entire afternoon, and paced LSU (17-12-1 overall, 3-5-1 SEC) to a 7-3 Sunday win over the Crimson Tide (18-12, 4-5 SEC) in Tuscaloosa.

Box Score:

Brandon Belcher started for Alabama and allowed back-to-back singles and issued a walk to load the bases after retiring the leadoff hitter, and was almost out of the inning before Waguespack drove the 1-2 pitch into right-center field.

Belcher (1-1) took the loss for Alabama with two innings of work. He allowed three hits and walked one in 10 batters faced. He was on a limited pitch count, and threw just 39 pitches in his first start in six weeks.

"Belcher was fine," Alabama Head Coach Jim Wells said. "Hopefully he will get better. His arm was bothering him. He doesn't have a curveball now. His arm was hurting a little bit, but he still got his pitches in."

Ryan Byrd (4-0) went five and a third innings for LSU and got the win. Alabama got six hits off Byrd, but managed only three runs, one which was unearned thanks to a throwing error by third baseman Jason Lewis.

"We have close to as many hits and don't capitalize on them," Wells said. "Sometimes you have to bust open and score runs and that would have helped us today. We're finding ways to lose instead of finding ways to win. We're not tough enough right now to deal with it and we've got to get where we can."

After leaving a dozen men stranded on base Saturday night, Alabama left 10 men on base Sunday, including leaving the bases loaded when trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth.

"It's one of the most frustrating things to have that chance and can't get it done," designated hitter Alex Avila, who was 3 for 5 on the day, said. "We're not worried. We're just frustrated."

Bama's leadoff man and best hitter Emeel Salem was 0 for 4 on the day with a walk.

"It's brutal to lose at home, especially in a weekend where we could easily have won all three," he said. "But I feel like we say that every weekend and it needs to change. We're still confident because we know what we are capable of. It could be better and we know we need to take care of business at home."

Jared Bradford, who worked in all three games out of the bullpen this weekend, pitched the final three innings and got the save.

Alabama started the game without one of its biggest threats, freshman infielder Jake Smith. Smith injured his MCL knee ligament earlier in the season and his hamstring this week. He apparently re-injured the hamstring Saturday night. Smith did pinch-hit in the eighth, popping up to first base.

"He's kind of banged up," Wells said. "He's got a pulled hamstring, he's got a bad knee. We rested him all week but he re-injured it sliding into second base (Saturday) night."

Austin Hyatt returned to the hill after time out with a sore arm and pitched two and two third innings, giving up one run on two hits.

LSU second baseman Chris McGhee and center fielder Jared Mitchell had two hits each, and teamed up to break open a close game in the seventh inning and give LSU the series.

Clinging to a 4-3 lead, Mitchell laced an RBI double into the left field corner to score Steven Broschofsky giving LSU a 5-3 lead. Broschofsky led off the inning with a triple to right-center field. After Mitchell stole third base, McGhee beat out a squeeze bunt for an RBI single to score Mitchell from third and push the Tigers lead to 6-3.

The Crimson Tide loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning, but managed only one run.

After the two-run seventh inning, LSU added a run in the ninth when McGhee walked, stole second and scored on Hollander's base hit to give LSU a 7-3 lead.

Alabama will face UAB at Regions Park (formerly Hoover Met) Wednesday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m. The Crimson Tide is on the road in SEC play next weekend to take on Vanderbilt in a three-game series in Nashville.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama has lost seven of its last nine regular season series to LSU, dating back to the 2000 season. LSU's series win over Alabama was the Tigers first in Tuscaloosa since 2001.

*Senior Brandon Belcher (Ruston, La.) made his first appearance on the mound after missing the last six weeks with a strained muscle in his left forearm. Belcher last pitched for the Crimson Tide on opening day when he shutout Georgia State on one hit through 5 2/3 innings with no walks and six strikeouts. The LSU game marked Belcher's first SEC start since March 21, 2005 at Auburn. He missed the entire 2006 season recovering from "Tommy John" surgery.

*Alabama allowed three runs in the top of the first inning and has been outscored 19-1 in the first two innings in its last three Sunday SEC games. Tennessee held a 6-1 lead after two innings March 18 and Ole Miss held an 8-0 lead after two innings March 25.

*Senior center fielder Emeel Salem (Mountain Brook) was intentionally walked in the sixth inning to extend his on base streak to 43 consecutive games, dating back to the 2006 season. He has reached base in all 30 games this year. Salem went 0-for-4 and saw his team-best 10-game hitting streak come to an end Sunday.

*Sophomore right-hander Austin Hyatt (Marietta, Ga.) made his first appearance on the mound since March 10 as he worked 2 2/3 innings against LSU. Hyatt allowed one run, two hits and added two strikeouts.

*Alabama has lost its last four Sunday games.


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