The hard-charging train that is the LSU baseball team continued its quest for back-to-back SEC Tournament titles Saturday by dispatching Arkansas with ease.
Connor Hale, Tyler Moore and Kade Scivicque all homered and Tigers pitcher Kevin Bouman had a perfect game and didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning as No. 8 LSU downed No. 20 Arkansas 11-1 in an eight-inning, run-rule shortened SEC Tournament semifinal game.
The Razorbacks (38-23) – who had won 9 of their last 11 games entering Saturday - ended a great tournament run with a thud against a Tigers team that has now won seven straight games.
"First off, congratulations to LSU again," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "They played extremely well. They pitched well, and hit the ball hard. "As far as our team today, I felt like coming in to today, we obviously had a chance.
"You could just tell after a couple innings, everything was a little bit in slow motion for us," Van Horn added. "I think guys were tired. Five games in a row, pretty hot. It's no excuse but it is an excuse. It was just one of those things, we ran out of gas. We obviously ran out of pitching, we had to recycle guys. Not to take anything away from LSU, they got after us. On the other end, it just didn't happen. I don't think we had enough left in the tank."
Arkansas went 3-2 in the event with an opening round win over Texas A&M and a pair of victories over Ole Miss while losing both games it played to LSU.
LSU (43-14-1) – who had 16 hits on Saturday and now has a whopping 104 hits in its last seven games - will look for its 11th SEC Tournament title on Sunday against the winner of Saturday's other semifinal between Florida and Kentucky.
"We are excited about playing in the championship game," LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. " I think it is a great experience for our players to go to sleep at night knowing they are going to wake up and play for a championship. I want them to get used to that feeling. Not a lot of athletes get to experience that. I have the sense they will be excited to play tomorrow."
Unlike Ole Miss, who let Arkansas rally from a 6-0 deficit on Frdiay, the Tigers kept their feet on the pedal.
"Kyle Bouman was the story of the game for me with five no-hit innings to keep them down," Mainieri said. "When we got the lead, I didn't think it was safe after watching them play the way they did yesterday. We gave him the opportunity to pitch his way out of the sixth inning, and he did. When he gets in trouble he bears down and makes pitches.
Arkansas – using five pitchers while playing its fifth game in five days – will wait to hear Monday where it will be placed in the NCAA Tournament.
"First off, I just would like to say I am really proud of the way our guys fought these last few weeks," Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson said. " We kind of had our backs up against the wall. Like (Eric Fisher) said, it started with the Texas A&M weekend. We just said we have to take it one day at a time and battle to try to pull out wins as well as we can. I think we have done a good job of that lately.
"We had a big comeback win against Ole Miss," Anderson added. "Like coach said, we just kind of ran out of gas today. That's going to happen but we are excited to see where we go from here on out."
Clark Eagan had two of Arkansas' four hits.
The Razorbacks did not have a hit until freshman catcher Alex Gosser led off the sixth with a bloop single off Bouman (5-2).
Arkansas would go ahead and load the bases with no outs and eventually broke up the shut out when Eric Fisher drew a bases-loaded walk on the 10th pitch of his at bat.
Bouman then left it 8-1 when he got Tyler Spoon on a fielder's choice.
Hale got the scoring started with a second-inning solo homer off Arkansas stopgap starter and loser Zach Jackson (2-2) that put his team up 1-0.
The Tigers have hit 12 home runs in their last 17 games.
The top of the third featured an interesting play when Gosser's pop foul bounced off the head of LSU third baseman Christian Ibarra and into the glove of hustling shortstop Alex Bregman.
Anderson made a bid to tie the game in the top of the fourth, but his drive died just in front of the 405 sign in center field.
After Jackson exited after pitching three innings, LSU then began to pile on with Moore's two-run homer off reliever Jackson Lowery pushing his team ahead 3-0 in the fourth.
The Tigers then added four runs in the fifth against Lowery and Dominic Taccolini.
Colin Poche pitched a scoreless sixth for Arkansas while Alex Phillips tossed the seventh and watched Scivcque drive his first pitch out of the park.
The Tigers then ended the game with three runs in the eighth.
It was the second straight year that Arkansas had made it to the SEC Tournament semifinals and the second year in a row it was eliminated by LSU.
"Starting back with the Texas A&M weekend, we knew we had to go out there and win the series," Fisher said. " Winning those first two games was really big. Having Missouri and winning the first two then pulling out the last one and getting the sweep.
"Taking that momentum here, stringing together a couple games was good for us," Fisher added. "That comeback win yesterday was huge. It just gives everybody confidence. It lets us know if we are down, we have all the chances in the world to comeback and win the game. I think it is going to help us in the regional."
Arkansas players and head coach Dave Van Horn talk at the post-game press conference.
LSU 11, Arkansas 1
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