In his story, the hit can be whatever he wants it be.
|Jared Foster: Came through with a bases-loaded hit to give LSU a 3-2 triumph|
And as long as the win counts, none of his Tiger teammates will ever trifle with whatever description Foster comes up with to share with his clan.
Foster’s 45-foot tapper to the left side of the infield Sunday was just slow enough to keep Razorbacks’ third baseman Matt Reynolds from making a clean play, and that allowed Ty Ross to rumble home with the winning run as 12th-ranked LSU (22-6, 6-3 SEC) completed a sweep of the third-ranked Hogs (22-6, 5-4) with a second straight walk-off, one-run win at Alex Box Stadium.
The infield single was just Foster’s second hit of the series in 12 at-bats and supplied his first RBI in 24 at-bats over the last 12 games.
No matter how it looked, though, it was a big blow, and can only get bigger as time goes by.
“As long as it gets the job done, it doesn’t matter to me what it looked like,” Foster said after he emerged from the second on-the-field mob scene in as many days. “I’m just glad to do my part and help us win the game.”
In his previous four trips to the plate Sunday, Foster grounded into a double play and made the third out of three innings – the last in the ninth inning when he popped up foul to the catcher with Ross on second base with the winning run.
None of that mattered when he came up again in the 11th with the bases loaded, and that was part of the pep talk Tigers coach Paul Mainieri delivered to Foster before he stepped into the box.
“He told me I was going to come through and that I was a winner,” Foster said. “He had faith in me.
“I’ve got to go up there and hit the ball – don’t worry about the past.”
Before that chance ever came up, the Tigers had to conjure up a rally with two outs against Razorbacks’ reliever Barrett Astin when it looked like they were about to squander another chance to win.
|Ty Ross: Third straight 2-hit game and scored the game-winning run|
Trying to get Rhymes in scoring position, Mainieri sent Rhymes on another hit-and-run with Ross up, but a 1-and-1 pitch was too far outside and Ross waved and missed, allowing Arkansas catcher Jake Wise time to gun Rhymes down for the second out.
Ross gave the inning a pulse when he chopped a ball toward Reynolds that he got to, but couldn’t snatch, allowing Ross to reach on an infield hit. Tyler Hanover shanked an opposite-field base hit that dropped in front of right fielder Derrick Bleeker and the drama thickened.
That gave Tyler Moore the first chance to be the hero, but instead he got on base when Astin clipped him on the foot with a pitch.
Foster stepped in for a chance at redemption, and on the third offering he got, he dribbled the ball into no-man’s land for the game-winner.
“Hustle,” Foster said about what was in his mind when he made contact. “Run as fast as I can. I chopped it a little bit, so I knew it was going to be a close play.”
The final play ended a taut battle that evolved into another duel on the mound between LSU starter Aaron Nola and the Hogs’ bullpen and eventually the Tigers’ relievers.
Nola was spectacular into the seventh inning, surrendering only three hits and striking out a career-high 9 before a sudden pain in his shoulder ended his day. Two of Arkansas’ three hits were long solo home runs, though, and that kept the Razorbacks in contention because LSU’s bats went silent after a promising start.
The Tigers got to Arkansas starter Nolan Sanburn for a run each in the first and third frames on two-out hits – the first by Rhymes after Katz poked a hit and got to second base on a wild pitch and the second when Austin Nola drilled a double into the left-field corner.
Razorbacks’ coach Dave Van Horn turned the ball over to Brandon Moore in the fourth and he breezed through four innings, mowing down 12 straight hitters until the eighth.
JaCoby Jones rifled Moore’s first pitch of the eighth right back to the mound and off the pitcher’s flank for a single. It also ended Moore’s day in favor of Colby Suggs. A sacrifice bunt and a groundout got Jones to third base, and Van Horn walked Rhymes intentionally before summoning Astin to face Austin Nola, who struck out looking.
LSU got a similar chance in the ninth after Ross’ leadoff single, but Astin wiggled off the hook by getting Moore and Foster.
Foster’s turn came around again, though, and he didn’t let that one go by.
The hits Hanover and Foster produced put a palatable finish on a weekend when the bottom third of the Tigers’ batting order combined to go 4-for-34.
|Nick Goody: 2.1 innigns of shutdown relief helped Tigers pull out a win and series sweep|
“That’s the way the game is played,” Katz said. “We win one (Saturday) a line-drive shot and then we win on a little tapper. You have to be ready for anything.
“The bottom of our lineup might’ve struggled, but with two outs and nobody on base, you’ve just got to go up there and hit the ball hard. They battled hard and ended up getting the job done for us.”
Same can be said of the LSU bullpen, which didn’t budge after Aaron Nola had to exit.
Nick Goody took over in the seventh and slammed the door by striking out Sam Bates and Bo Bigham. Then in the ninth inning, Arkansas posed a big threat when pinch-hitter Jacob Mahan yanked a leadoff single and Reynolds dropped a check-swing base hit over third base with one out.
Goody coached Bleeker into a fly ball to center field before yielding to southpaw Chris Cotton. Facing Bates, a left-handed hitter, Cotton won a full-count battle when he got the hitter to roll out sharply to Grant Dozar at first base.
After that, Joey Bourgeois took over and he didn’t let the Hogs up for air. He blazed through two perfect innings, striking out three, to give the Tigers’ bats time to deliver the run it needed for another one-run – LSU’s fifth in nine SEC games this season.
|Joey Bourgeois: Two perfect frames keep Arkansas off the scoreboard in 3-2 victory|
“When I got in there, I just took it pitch-by-pitch and got ahead of hitters,” Bourgeois said after his first victory since 2010. “My curve ball was working well.
“I felt like I could’ve gone out there however long Coach needed me. Whether it’s one hitter or five innings, you just go out and do your job.”
Job done, LSU finds itself in a tie for first place in the SEC West Division with Auburn, which took two of three from Mississippi State this weekend.
The Tigers will entertain Louisiana College at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in a replacement game for the rained-out game against Notre Dame two weeks ago. After that, LSU heads to Florida to face No. 1-ranked Florida starting Thursday night.
“This is huge for us going into next weekend at Florida,” Katz said.