LSU 3, Arkansas 1

LSU downs Arkansas 3-1 Saturday in an SEC Tournament semifinal to send the Razorbacks back to Fayetteville to await the NCAA Selection Committee's decision on postseason play.

In a made-for-TV SEC tournament format, Arkansas suffered its only loss on the only day that would keep it from playing on.

LSU's Christian Ibarra had three hits and a pair of RBIs as the No. 2 Tigers rallied for a 3-1 win over the No. 14 Razorbacks Saturday afternoon in an SEC Tournament semifinal in Hoover, Ala.

LSU (51-9), the SEC Western Division champkion this season, moves on to Sunday's championship game.

The Tigers will play the winner of this afternoon's other semifinal between Eastern Division champ and top-ranked Vanderbilt (50-8) and Mississippi State (43-16).

Arkansas (37-20) will now wait to find out whether its 2-1 record this week is enough to be one of 16 NCAA Regional host sites with that announcement coming at 8 p.m. on Sunday night.

The Razorbacks' RPI moved from 48th to 31st with its success this week at the SEC Tournament.

The entire NCAA Tournament field will be announced on Monday morning at 11 a.m.

The Razorbacks – who had just one hit on Saturday - had piled up 12 hits in beating the Tigers 4-1 Thursday.

This year's SEC tournament was one in which the first day was single elimination, the next three days played as double elimination and the final two days back to single elimination for TV.

"Probably the positive for us, and there weren't very many, is that we were able to wiggle out of a lot of jams; LSU couldn't have scored a few more runs," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I thought our bullpen did a tremendous job for the most part, coming in and getting a hitter or two, double play. They all came through for us and gave us a chance. Offensively we didn't do much of anything. We got to get back, get a little rest and great ready for regional play."

On whether he believes Arkansas will host a regional, Van Horn said, "I think they (the team) deserve one in Fayetteville. We have 20 wins against SEC teams, won seven out of 10 series, won four out of five on the road. They had a lot of wins and I think they deserve one. We've been on the road for 11 days, it would be nice to be home and play."

Do the Hogs take momentum into the NCAA tournament?

"I think we had some momentum the first couple of days, today might have been a little bit of a step back," Van Horn said. "I think the good thing about this team is that we have guys who have been there this time of year and I think the way it did not happen today will motivate us. We will have a couple of good practices and stick to more of a defensive minded lineup. Today was supposed to be a more offensive lineup but it didn't happen. Some guys just didn't do a very good job at the plate and they'd be the first to tell you. I think the team kind of bonded during this road trip and I think we'll play well in the regional."

Arkansas catcher Jake Wise said there are pros and cons to the home versus road thoughts for regional play.

"It's always nice to be home and host a regional, but if we don't, we don't," Wise said. "We have a bunch of guys that have the experience. Some of us also like to be on the road because we stay in a hotel and are together all the time, so for us doesn't really matter if we're at home or on the road."

Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the third against LSU freshman starter Hunter Newman when Jake Wise walked, went to second on an error and scored on a second error in the inning.

Razorback starting pitcher Randall Fant pitched 4 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball with three hits and three walks before Brandon Moore relieved him and got out of a two-out, two-on situation.

But LSU tied it 1-1 when the first three batters reached base against Moore in the sixth with Ibarra's RBI single knotting the game.

The Tigers then took a 2-1 lead later in the frame when Tyler Moore's fielder's choice was thrown home too late to get Raph Rhymes.

Tyler Spoon then got the Razorbacks' lone hit of the day with a single, but he was immediately rolled up in a double play on a hit-and-run.

LSU moved its lead to 3-1 in the eighth when Ibarra's double plated Jared Foster.

Chris Cotton then had a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 15th save of the season to complete the one-hitter, which was only the third in SEC Tournament history.

LSU had advanced to the semifinals by downing Alabama 3-2 on Friday when it scored a pair of two out runs in the ninth.

Cotton was the final of five pitchers the Tigers used on the day.

Arkansas had advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 win over Ole Miss and the 4-1 win over LSU.

"We get to stick around for another day," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "We're happy about that. The key to our game today was our pitching, which was absolutely phenomenal. To give a team like Arkansas one hit through nine innings was amazing.

"I thought Hunter Newman was key to the game because he got us off to a good start. He threw the ball well. Unfortunately, we had to take him out in the fifth. Our guys coming out of the bullpen were fantastic, beginning with Will. It was a great pitching performance by our team. We pitch, play defense and scratch a couple across. That's what we did today."

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