LSU hangs on win in SEC Tourney opener

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- LSU built a 4-0 lead through four innings of its SEC Tournament opener against Arkansas, but had to hold off a Razorback rally for a 5-4 victory at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in a game that ended early Friday morning. <br><br> The Fighting Tigers (38-18-1), the regular season conference champions and top seed in the tournament, comes back later today at 8 p.m. to face fourth seed Mississippi State (39-16-1).

The Bulldogs were a 5-4 winner in 12 innings over Ole Miss in the other bracket two game on Thursday.

Arkansas (34-19) and Ole Miss (34-22) meet in a bracket two elimination game at 1 p.m.

In bracket one, Iron Bowl rivals Alabama and Auburn will meet in a winner's bracket game at 5 p.m., with East division champion South Carolina and Vanderbilt playing the first elimination game at 10 a.m.

Arkansas, whose only hit through the first 4 1/3 innings off of LSU starter Jason Determann was a fourth-inning leadoff single by Nick Pitts, got in gear in the fifth on a Clay Goodwin single and a double by Brett Hagedorn that led to a two-run single by Scott Hode to cut the LSU lead to 4-2.

Arkansas starter Jarrett Gardner gave up an RBI single to Aaron Hill in the seventh that made it 5-2, but the Razorbacks threat

Determann, who retired the first nine batters of the game, ran out of gas with one out in the eighth by giving up a double to Nick Pitts, an RBI triple off the right center field fence to Jason Pyle, and then a ground ball single to Haas Pratt to bring the Razorbacks to within 5-4.

The Tigers brought in Billy Sadler to relieve Determann, and after Sadler struck out Andrew Wishy for the second out, he walked Ryan Fox to put the go-ahead run on base.

Sadler, who walked in the game-winning run for Arkansas in the 10th inning last Saturday at Fayetteville and gave up a two-run double the next day that cost the Tigers a shutout, somehow got out of the jam by striking out Goodwin to end the inning.

Sadler put the tying run on base in the ninth by hitting pinch hitter Kirk McConnell with one out, and then a wild pitch and a ground ball had pinch runner Scott Bridges at third with the tying run. Sadler then retired Pitts on a deep fly ball to the warning track in right field to notch his fourth save.

Determann improved to 5-0 on the year, giving up four runs on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings.

LSU got a hit in each of the first two innings, but nothing came out of either of those hits before the Tigers got rolling in the third.

With one out, Tiger leadoff hitter Bruce Sprowl hit a slow roller to Razorback first baseman Pratt. As Pratt went to tag Sprowl, Sprowl slipped feet-first, touching the bag just before Pratt applied the tag.

J.C. Holt followed Sprowl with another base hit, and Hill's single into right-center scored Sprowl and moved Holt to third, where he would score on a Blake Gill sacrifice fly for a 2-0 edge. Hill would score the third run of the frame on a base hit by Clay Harris.

A leadoff double in the fourth by Jon Zeringue led to a 4-0 lead for LSU when Zeringue scored on Bruce Sprowl's blooper that turned into a fielder's choice when baserunner Matt Liuzza was forced out at second.

Gardner pitched all eight innings for Arkansas, but took his second loss to the Tigers in seven days to fall to 4-5 on the year.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive presented the SEC championship trophy to LSU coach Smoke Laval at home plate prior to the game. Once the Tigers took the field for warm-ups prior to the first pitch, a moment of silence was observed in memory of the late Wally Pontiff, LSU's two-time All-SEC third baseman who died last July 24 of a heart abnormality.

Pontiff was the SEC Tournament MVP as a freshman in 2000, when his grand slam propelled LSU past Florida in the championship game.

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