Hill hits for cycle, but Tigers lose 8-5

All things move in cycles. <br><br> Wins and losses, hits and misses; everything in life works in cycles. Saturday night at Alex Box Stadium, all things were cyclical – both Aaron Hill and his Tigers. <br><br> LSU has not lost many games in the SEC, but like a cycle, that is not always the case. The Tigers three-game league winning streak was snapped when the South Carolina Gamecocks beat LSU 8-5.

But the wins and losses cycle was not the most prominent cycle on Saturday. Hill went 5-for-5 hitting for the cycle with a home run, a triple, double and a pair of singles. It was the first time an LSU player has hit for the cycle since Mike Koerner went 5-for-5 in a 22-0 win over Virginia Commonwealth on March 1, 1997.

 

Despite reaching a rare milestone, Hill was not as happy as one would think about his cycle.

 

"Things would have been a lot better if we would have won," Hill said. "Today was huge in the SEC."

 

While LSU was losing to South Carolina, SEC front runner Mississippi State lost to Kentucky 10-2 while Alabama defeated Auburn 3-2. The Bulldogs led LSU by a half game for the western division and overall conference lead. Auburn still trails the Tigers by a half-game.

 

A towering Jon Zeringue home run in the bottom of the ninth brought some electricity to the air. LSU rallied for two runs, the last from Hill's triple, before Ivan Naccarata looked at called strike three ending the game.

 

LSU's fate was decided much earlier though.

 

A four-run flurry by South Carolina in the top of the fourth was enough to pace the Gamecocks to the three-run victory over LSU.

 

"They had more offensive pressure on us than we had on them," LSU head coach Smoke Laval said.

 

The game, which was slated for 3 p.m., was pushed back to 5:00 due to an early afternoon rainstorm in the Baton Rouge area. The team's will meet again Sunday at 1 p.m. in the rubber match of the weekend SEC series.

 

Things got off to a rather gloomy beginning as starting pitcher Bo Pettit struggled finding the strike zone. Pettit walked the first two batters he faced then surrendered an RBI double to USC's Brian Buscher. After walking the next Gamecock batter, Pettit faced a bases loaded, no out situation. But the crafty senior escaped unscathed with the Tigers only trailing 1-0.

 

"We got a break in the first inning," Laval said. "They could have broke it open right there but they didn't."

 

LSU (20-10, 8-2-1 SEC) tied the game in the third frame when J.C. Holt and Aaron Hill hit back-to-back doubles. But things soon unraveled for the Tigers when South Carolina built a 5-1 lead in the fourth, powered by three-run Michael Campbell home run coupled with a Kevin Melillo solo blast.

 

Pettit left after pitching five complete innings. He gave up six earned runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and five walks. Greg Smith came on in relief pitching the final four frames, in which he surrendered three runs, two earned, while striking out two and walking one.

 

"We had way too many walks," Laval said. "We had six walks with a hit batter and five of them scored."

 

South Carolina (20-11, 5-6 SEC) built a 7-1 lead with single runs in the sixth and seventh frame before Hill drilled a solo home run to left in the home half of the sixth narrowing the Gamecock advantage to 7-2.

 

The team traded runs with USC scoring one in the seventh. LSU responded manufacturing a run in the eighth closing the gap to 8-3.

 

Hill, of course led the way going 5-for-5. Zeringue homered and singled twice going 3-for-4 while Clay Harris got a pair of singles going 2-for-4 on the evening.

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