Alabama Baseball Falls To LSU, 4-3

HOOVER, Ala. – Alabama and LSU played a game for the ages on Sunday afternoon at the SEC Championship Game with the Tigers winning their third straight postseason championship with a 4-3 win in 11 innings at Regions Park in Hoover.

The game, which endured two rain delays that totaled over two hours, featured a number of stellar defensive plays and some late-inning drama that had the crowd of 13,327 fans on the edge of its seats for much of the game.

LSU (40-20) snapped a 3-3 tie with a run in the top of the 11th inning to become the first team since Alabama (1995-97) to win three straight SEC Tournament championships. Second baseman Tyler Hanover, who had three hits in the win, singled home pinch-runner Matt Fury with the go-ahead run with two outs.

"It was a really good game, one of the better college games you will see considering the two rain delays," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. "The pitching on both sides was really good. It was just a real competitive game throughout.

"On our side, I am really proud of our team the way we played the entire tournament here. We really competed and got after it here every day. We had some opportunities today especially late in the game. We had a shot in the ninth and 10th inning, Ranaudo was just outstanding today. We put ourselves in position, but we came up short."

Alabama right-hander Jake Smith retired Leon Landry on a pop up to sophomore left fielder Jon Kelton to open the 11th before Matt Gaudet lined a single to left field. Smith then got left fielder Johnny Dishon to pop up to senior first baseman Clay Jones for the second out.

LSU right fielder Mikie Mahtook, who homered in the third inning, reached on an infield single. The play was originally scored an error on UA junior shortstop Josh Rutledge, but was later changed to a base hit. Fury entered the game as a pinch-runner for Gaudet at second base and scored on Hanover's base hit to left field to put LSU in front 4-3.

LSU right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (5-2), who worked three scoreless innings, retired Alabama in order in the 11th for the win. He did added five strikeouts and did not allow a hit or a walk.

"Ranaudo looked like he did when we played him last year," Alabama junior second baseman Ross Wilson said. "He was really good tonight."

Smith (1-2) allowed a run on three hits in three innings of relief and was charged with the loss. He struck out one and walked two.

Alabama (37-22) trailed 3-1 entering the seventh inning but tied the game with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings.

The Crimson Tide scored a run in the seventh when freshman right fielder Andrew Miller stroked a one-out single to right field off LSU reliever Chris Cotton as UA closed the gap to 3-2.

Kelton got things started in the seventh with a one-out bunt single and moved to second on freshman DH Brandt Hendricks base hit through the left side of the infield. Hendricks base hit chased LSU starter Daniel Bradshaw, who allowed two runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings with five strikeouts and no walks.

Cotton took over for Bradshaw and Miller singled to right on the first pitch to score Kelton as UA cut the lead to 3-2.

From there, right-hander Paul Bertuccini replaced Cotton on the mound with two runners on base. Junior catcher Brock Bennett came to the plate and appeared to have tied the game with an RBI single but LSU left fielder Matt Katz made a diving catch and then double off Hendricks at second base to end the threat.

Alabama tied the game in the eighth inning on Smith's two-out base hit to right field that scored junior second baseman Ross Wilson to even the score at 3-3. Wilson reached base when he was hit by a pitch with two outs and Jones followed with a base hit to left field to set up Smith's game-tying RBI.

Smith worked a scoreless ninth inning and Alabama carried the momentum into the bottom of the inning before the game was stopped again for 67 minutes due to more rain and lightning.

The delay seemed to take that momentum away from Alabama and LSU was able to put its No. 1 starter on the mound for the ninth inning. The Crimson Tide went in order in the ninth, but did have to chance to win the game against Ranaudo after putting two runners on base with two outs.

Wilson drew a two-out walk and then stole second base. He advanced to third when catcher Micah Gibbs' throw sailed into center field. Jones drew a walk before Smith lined out to right field to end the inning.

LSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings to chase Alabama starter Taylor Wolfe.

The Tigers scored twice in the second inning on Matt Gaudet's two-out, two-run double to left field to take a 2-0 lead. Alex Edward started the rally with a two-out single and Leon Landry coaxed a walk, the first issued by Alabama in the tournament. Gaudet then followed with his fifth double of the season to give the Tigers a two-run lead.

Mikie Mahtook gave LSU a 3-0 lead when he led off the third inning with his 14th home run of the year.

Wolfe allowed three runs on three hits in two-plus innings with two strikeouts and one walk.

The Alabama bullpen took over from there and posted six shutout innings as the offense climbed back into the game.

Freshman right-hander Tucker Hawley threw four scoreless innings and junior right-hander Jimmy Nelson made his second SEC Tournament appearance with two scoreless innings.

Alabama began the comeback with a run in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to 3-1. Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge led off the inning with a single and took second when Mahtook misplayed the ball in right field. Junior second baseman Ross Wilson followed with single up the middle to score Rutledge with the first run of the game for the Alabama.

The game was delayed 80 minutes at the end of the inning due to rain and lightning. It was the first of two rain delays in the game.

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