The "goofy" thing was LSU had its best hurler on the mound with Nate Bumstead toeing the rubber. But the Tigers ace would be shown the door after just two-thirds of an inning. Before LSU (35-17-1, 18-7-1 SEC) took its' initial at bat in the bottom of the first frame, Auburn already held a 7-0 advantage.
"It hurts to give up seven runs like in the top of the first inning," LSU junior shortstop Aaron Hill said. "We have came back from things like that in the past, but today was just not our day. But that is just baseball in the SEC."
Bumstead gave up a single to leadoff hitter Sean Gamble, and although Gamble was retied on a fielder's choice ground ball by Javon Moran, a single by Tug Hulett and a walk to Bobby Huddleston loaded the bases, and Auburn scored the game's first run when Karl Amonite was hit on the leg by a bouncing Bumstead pitch.
Two batters later, Chuck Jeroloman bounced a two-run single up the middle, and Gamble followed with a his second hit of the inning, a triple into the right-center field gap to chase Bumstead.
"The SEC Championship was on the line and I was thinking about it too much coming in," Bumstead said. "I think the pressure kind of got to me a little."
The seven-run uprising tied for the biggest inning given up by LSU this season, along with a seven-run third inning vs. Kansas on February 16.
Although LSU did lose on Sunday, the Tigers magic number remained at one game as Georgia rallied from seven runs down in the sixth frame to tie Mississippi State at 7-7 sending the game to extra innings. UGA finally sent the Bulldogs home a loser with a 9-8 in 15 innings. LSU now holds a two and a half game lead over Auburn, Ole Miss and South Carolina, all of whom are 16-11 in SEC play. Mississippi State is a full three games back at 15-11. The Tigers need only one win at Arkansas next weekend to claim its first outright SEC title since 1997.
Bumstead has been superb for Laval's team in every outing except the horrendous showing against Kansas and a brief stint against Tulane at Zephyr Field in which he came in only to throw eight straight balls. Other than those two blowouts and Sunday's uprising, the sophomore transfer had been the Tigers steadiest pitcher.
"I am glad it happened today," Laval said about Bumstead's misfortunes. "He (Bumstead) is usually good for eight or nine quality starts after that. It was just one of those days for Nate."
LSU made contact and scored runs trying to answer Auburn (35-16, 16-11 SEC), but the War Eagle matched LSU blow-for-blow. The Tigers closed the gap to 10-4 with a two-run spot in the bottom of the third, but reliever Jake Tompkins gave up a two-run shot to Jerolman, which raised Auburn's lead to 12-4 and earned Tompkins an early dismissal.
"We competed, I mean we scored runs," Laval said. "Sometimes you get the bear, but sometimes the bear gets you."
Jason Determann went the rest of the way allowing two runs on six hits in five and two-thirds innings pitched. Tompkins gave up five runs on five hits with three strikeouts in his two and two-thirds innings appearance. Bumstead fell to 8-2 on the season giving up seven runs (all earned) on five hits with a single strikeout.
LSU threatened several times down the stretch with a bases loaded situation in both the sixth and eighth innings. However, the Tigers manufactured single runs in each of those innings and posted a two-spot in the ninth, but still fell six runs short.
"We got 13 hits and scored eight runs," Hill said. "It was not Nate or Jake's fault. They came out swinging the bat today and answered every time we scored runs. That is baseball."