Tigers stop the bleeding - beat Vandy 9-2

NASVHILLE—Nate Bumstead pitched seven solid innings to win his fifth consecutive start, while LSU's offense busted loose for 17 hits as the Fighting Tigers remained in first place in the Southeastern Conference with an 9-2 victory over Vanderbilt in the finale of the three-game series on Easter Sunday at Hawkins Field. <br><br> LSU (26-13-1, 12-5-1) is one-half game ahead of Auburn and one game ahead of Mississippi State in the West division and overall standings with 12 SEC games remaining.

The Tigers (No. 7 Collegiate Baseball, No. 10 Baseball America, No. 12 ESPN/USA Today) open a four-game homestand on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. against Southeastern Louisiana before hosting Tennessee in a three-game series next weekend.

Vanderbilt (19-19, 8-10), which had already clinched the series by winning 4-2 and 5-4 in 10 innings in the first two games, remains one game behind South Carolina for the lead in the SEC East.

Through the first seven innings, the Commodores could muster just one run off of LSU starter Nate Bumstead, who allowed just one runner to get past first base in the second through seventh innings and would walk none and strike out seven through seven innings.

Vanderbilt got three consecutive hits to start the eighth, with Cesar Nicolas' single scoring Ryan Klosterman to cut the LSU lead to 6-2. Billy Sadler came in to relieve Bumstead and after retiring Warner Jones on a short fly ball, he uncorked a wild pitch to move Matt Zeller to third and Nicolas to second.

But Sadler ended the last Commodore threat by retiring John Kaye on a ground ball and striking out Tony Mansolino. For the year, Sadler has left 12 of 13 inherited runners stranded on base.

The Tigers expanded their lead in the ninth with three runs, highlighted by Clay Harris' two-run home run, his team leading ninth this season.

LSU, which had not led in either of the first two games of the series, got untracked quickly in the finale. Vanderbilt starter Ryan Mullins retired the Tigers' first batters in the top of the first, but then gave up four consecutive singles, with the third by Blake Gill going into the right center field gap to score Aaron Hill and Harris for a 2-0 lead.

Gill later added a third RBI when he walked with the bases loaded in the seventh and added a double in the eighth to finish the day 3-for-4. The Tigers' second baseman was LSU's leading hitter on the series, batting .500 (6-for-12) to raise his season average to .319.

Gill was one of four LSU players with three hits each, joined by Hill (3-for-5), Harris (3-for-4) and Jon Zeringue (3-for-6). The Tigers had just 12 hits in the first two games of the series in batting just .188.

Klosterman led off the bottom of the first with a base hit, and would score two batters later when Nicolas banged a line drive off the 35-foot wall in left field. However, Nicolas was thrown out by Ryan Patterson trying to stretch the single into a double, sapping the Commodore momentum and leaving the Tigers ahead 2-1 after one inning.

The score held until the fourth, when Jon Zeringue led off with a double and was followed by a Quinn Stewart single to put runners on the corners. With one out, Stewart took off for second, but got caught up in a rundown. Zeringue alertly broke for the plate, and as Commodore second baseman Zach Simpson threw home, Zeringue had already crossed the plate for a 3-1 lead.

Stewart slid in safely to second, just beating the sweep tag of Simpson. Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin came out to argue vigorously with third base umpire Don Gilmore, who made the call on the play.

Corbin persisted in his argument, and after several minutes, Gilmore ejected Corbin. Corbin continued to scream at Gilmore for a couple of minutes before having to be escorted off of the field by crew chief David Savage.

Two pitches after Corbin's ejection, the Commodores fell behind 5-1 when Matt Liuzza launched a Mullins offering well beyond the 375-foot marker in left center field for a two-run home run.

Mullins fell to 2-6 by giving up six runs on 13 hits in 6 2/3 innings, as the Commodores used four pitchers in the game after using a total of four in the first two games.

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