Alabama Wastes Superb Pitching

BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU third baseman Grant Dozar's walk-off home run ended the longest game in series history as the No. 6 Tigers beat Alabama 6-5 in 14 innings Sunday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium.



Dozar lined the first pitch he saw in the 14th inning into the right field bleachers ending the nearly four hour game. He tied the game with a one-out single in the ninth to force extra innings.

The 14-inning game was the longest played by Alabama since beating Tennessee 3-1 in 14 innings in the 1996 SEC Tournament. It was also the longest game by innings in the short history of the new Alex Box Stadium.

Alabama and LSU turned in a classic battle on Sunday in Baton Rouge. Alabama junior Jimmy Nelson pitched into the ninth inning and came within two outs of his career complete game. Nelson allowed five runs and nine hits in 8 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and no walks.

Junior right-hander Nathan Kilcrease was equally impressive with five innings out of the pen. He allowed one run and two hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Kilcrease (2-1), who was the tough-luck losing pitcher, stranded the winning run on base in the ninth inning and retired nine straight LSU hitters from the 10th through the 13th innings.

"We got a tremendous start from Nelson and certainly wanted to give him the opportunity to win the game in the ninth and they put together a good inning," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Kilcrease comes in and does an equally superb job and gives us many chances to win the game.

"We had some missed opportunities and so did they. I thought it was well played game and I thought played the game the right way and did it for 14 innings. I'm sure there were some opportunities left on the field, but if we play the game that way, we got better today. That's the way we have to play, we know our limitations. If we can take that and move on next week and just play the game that way, we will be a much better team than we have been the last three or four weeks."

LSU All-America closer Matty Ott allowed two runs in the eighth inning as the Crimson Tide took a 5-3 lead, but followed that up with six scoreless innings and at one point retired 11 straight UA batters. Ott (1-0) worked a career-high seven innings in relief and allowed two runs and four hits with three strikeouts and one walk.

Alabama (22-15, 5-10 SEC) snapped a 3-3 tie with two runs in the eighth off Ott to grab a 5-3 lead. Sophomore DH Jon Kelton drew a one-out walk and senior third baseman Jake Smith lined a single to right as the Tide had runners at first and second.

Junior David Kindred ripped a pinch-hit single past second baseman Tyler Hanover to score Kelton with the go-ahead run as the Tide went back in front 4-3. Freshman Andrew Miller, who pinch-hit for freshman left fielder Brett Booth, laid down a safety squeeze that scored Smith to give Alabama a 5-3 lead.

LSU (30-6, 10-5 SEC) got one run back in the bottom of the eighth inning when right fielder Mikie Mahtook was hit by a pitch with one out, stole second base and scored when Blake Dean reached on a two-out error by senior second baseman Ross Wilson to close the gap to 5-4.

The Tigers tied the game in the ninth with three hits to force extra innings. Leon Landry led off the ninth with a base hit to left and moved to second base on Hanover's sacrifice bunt. Matt Gaudet and Dozar followed with back-to-back singles with Landry scoring on Dozar's base hit to left to tie the game at 5-5.

Kilcrease replaced Nelson and struck out Johnny Dishon before Mahtook grounded out to Kilcrease to end the inning as the Tigers left two runners on base to send the game into extra innings.

Senior first baseman Clay Jones gave Alabama a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning when a lined a two-out home run into the right field bleachers. Wilson drew a two-out walk and scored on Jones' team-leading ninth home run.

LSU got a run back in the second inning when Landry and Hanover opened the inning with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with no outs. Gaudet rapped into a double play that allowed Landry to score from third base and cut the UA lead to 2-1.

Alabama added a run in third inning to extend its lead to 3-1. Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas lined a 3-2 pitch into left field for leadoff single and added his 14th stolen base of the season two pitches later. Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge followed with a single to center to score Dugas and put the Tide up 3-1.

LSU answered with a run in the bottom of the third inning on Mahtook's solo home run to right-center field. It was his eighth homer of the season.

The Tigers managed to tie the game with a run in the seventh inning, but clutch pitching by Nelson kept the lead run off the board as the game was tied 3-3.

Micah Gibbs and Landry stroked back-to-back singles in the seventh inning, with Gibbs taking third on Landry's hit-and-run single to right. Nelson struck out Hanover before Gaudet's soft ground out to short scored Gibbs with the tying run. Nelson then struck out Grant Dozar, leading the go-ahead run at second base.

Alabama will have a week off before hosting Mississippi State in a three-game SEC series beginning Friday at 6:35 p.m. (CDT) at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

GAME NOTES:

*The 14-inning game on Sunday was the longest game played by Alabama since a 14-inning game against Tennessee in the 1996 SEC Tournament in Hoover. Alabama won that game, 3-1. The 14-ininng game is also the longest in Alabama-LSU series history, surpassing a 13-inning game in 2005. Alabama won that game 5-4.

*Alabama junior right-handers Jimmy Nelson and Nathan Kilcrease worked 13 1/3 innings on Sunday and a held LSU to six runs (5 ER) and 11 hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk.

*Kilcrease and LSU closer Matty Ott combined to pitch 12 innings in relief and throw 146 pitches in the 14-inning game. Kilcrease worked five innings and threw 64 pitches, while Ott worked seven innings and threw 82 pitches.

*Senior first baseman Clay Jones gave the Crimson Tide a 2-0 lead with a two-run home run in the first inning. It was his team-leading ninth home run of the season and fourth home run in the last seven games. He has hit three home runs on this four-game road trip to Louisiana.

*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge recorded an RBI single in the third inning to extend his road hitting streak to 16 games, the only UA player to hit safely in every road game. In addition, Rutledge has hit safely in all 18 games away from Tuscaloosa this season.

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