LSU (36-17-1, 19-8-1) won its 13th conference championship, tying the Tigers with Alabama for the most championships since the conference was formed. Smoke Laval joined Skip Bertman (seven titles), Harry Rabenhorst (two titles), Red Swanson, Mel Didier and Jim Smith as coaches who have guided the Fighting Tigers to the SEC championship.
The Tigers, who won their first game in Fayetteville since a 10-4 win on March 20, 1999, look to claim the final series of the regular season on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The series wraps up on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Arkansas (33-17, 13-15) lost for the ninth time in its last 11 SEC outings and must win the final two games against LSU to assure itself of a spot in the SEC Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Birmingham.
LSU starting pitcher Nate Bumstead bounced back from his worst outing of the season by pitching eight strong innings to improve to 9-2. He gave up just one hit through the first five innings and yielded only one earned run and struck out seven.
LSU (No. 8 Collegiate Baseball, No. 10 Baseball America, No. 12 ESPN/USA Today) took the lead for the first time in the third inning with a pair of unearned runs. Matt Liuzza was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and two batters later, Liuzza was on third when Scott Bridges threw the ball into short left field trying to throw out the runner at second on J.C. Holt's ground ball.
Aaron Hill tied the game one batter later when his bloop single scored Liuzza, and Holt then gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead when he scored on Blake Gill's fielder's choice ground ball.
A one-out single by Ryan Patterson led to the Tigers' first run in the fourth inning, which came on a double by Jon Zeringue to left field after Patterson stole second and went to third on a wild pitch by Arkansas starter Jarrett Gardner.
Liuzza reached on an error one batter after Zeringue's double when Scott Hode's throw to first pulled Haas Pratt off the bag, and the extra out allowed LSU to make it 4-1 when Zeringue came home on Bruce Sprowl's ground ball.
Arkansas converted Andrew Wishy's leadoff double in the sixth inning into a run on a ground ball single by Brady Toops, but Bumstead worked his way out of the inning with a double play when Ryan Fox struck out, and then Liuzza threw down to second to nail Toops, who tried to move up a base when he saw the pitch to Fox bounce in the dirt.
LSU put the game away in the seventh inning with three runs, again taking advantage of an error by Hode on a Liuzza ground ball to start the inning. Sprowl and Holt followed Liuzza with singles to load the bases, and two batters later, Gill made it 6-1 with a two-run single back past the pitcher's mound.
Gardner was victimized by his defense, giving up five unearned runs over seven innings to fall to 4-4.
Gill led off the ninth with his fourth home run of the season as part of a three-run frame.
The Razorbacks took advantage of an LSU error to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, as leadoff hitter Clay Goodwin reached when his ground ball caromed off of Blake Gill's glove. Goodwin scored three batters later on Bridges' single, but Arkansas missed an opportunity to score at least one more run when Ryan Fox was caught in a rundown after he overran third base.
The start of the game was delayed by 20 minutes due to severe weather that passed through northwest Arkansas prior to the game. A tornado warning was given for the area at 4:45 p.m., and 30 minutes later, both teams and spectators were ordered to shelter in place in the tunnels behind both dugouts after the tornado sirens were sounded.
2003 SEC CHAMPIONS
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