NOTES: Eades shows some moxie

After a rugged six-game stretch, LSU's sophomore righty kept the Carolina offense at bay by dodging major damage in the first 6 innings.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Somewhere in the fine print of the box score from LSU's scintillating 3-2 triumph over South Carolina on Saturday, you'll spot Ryan Eades' name.

It may not jump off the page, and Eades wasn't lock-down spectacular.

But his gritty performance kept the Tigers in the game when the Gamecocks had several chances to break the game open.

Eades logged 5.1 innings and allowed seven hits, never getting USC in order.

Every time the Gamecocks threatened, though, Eades weathered the storm for the most part and allowed just one run.

In recent weeks, Eades was burned by opponent's big innings. On Saturday, he refused to blink despite working with runners in every inning.

"I feel a lot better about my performance (Saturday) than I did about my performances the last few weeks," he said. "I just tried to go out there and compete and give my team the best chance to win. When they got a hit, I just decided to slow myself down, take a deep breath and do what I've done the whole year – just minimize the damage. If one run scores, don't let another guy score."

There was also a very positive sign for Eades.

Although he didn't always work ahead in the count, only one Gamecock leadoff hitter reached base in his six innings. That one – Evan Marzilli – tripled to the gap in left-center field and scored on the next pitch for USC's lone run.

That began the second time through the order for Eades and that is often when he encounters trouble. This time he kept hanging up zeroes.

"I don't think it's been so much mechanics since I've been in that lull," Eades said. "Working ahead, I wasn't doing a great job of that, and getting leadoff hitters out. I did a little better job of that (Saturday). I was just trying to go after them and be aggressive."

If Eades has turned a corner, or is at least on his way back to being as effective as he was early in the season, that's huge news for LSU.

Should the Tigers get to the SEC Tournament semifinal round, Eades is likely to be a primary option.

"It definitely gives me more confidence," Eades said. "All these guys, even though I was not performing at my best, all these guys just kept believing in me. That kept me high. I always try to stay positive with myself and keep battling and going after it."

Added LSU coach Paul Mainieri, "One of these days I just wish he'd give me and gift and have a 1-2-3 inning so I don't have to be on the edge of my seat the whole time. The kid gets in jams, but he pitches out of them. You love his moxie."

In an emergency…

Mainieri said before Saturday's game that senior Jordy Snikeris would be available only in an emergency after he took a foul tip off a finger on his right hand in the first game of Friday's doubleheader.

Jordy Snikeris

The finger swelled up to the point that on Friday it was painful for Snikeris to grip a bat or a ball.

Snikeris had a different plan, though, when the Tigers got to the ballpark on Saturday.

"Coach asked me earlier how I was feeling, and I told him I was feeling good enough and that we were playing for the SEC championship and there's no way I was sitting this one out," Snikeris said.

"When we got to the field, I had to throw a little bit and that hurt the most. I took a little BP and it felt good enough to hit and go compete. I told Coach right then that I felt good enough to compete. Put me in whenever you need to."

Whatever sales pitch Snikeris made, it worked.

When the Gamecocks went to a left-handed reliever in the seventh inning, Mainieri sent Snikeris in to hit for Grant Dozar. Nothing came of that at-bat, as Snikeris tapped into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

In the 10th inning, though, Snikeris came back up to face Evan Beal and he worked his way on base with a four-pitch walk.

That set the stage for LSU's two-run inning, with Snikeris chugging around from second base on Jackson Slaid's two-out single to right field with the go-ahead run.

"I thought I was going pretty quick," Snikeris said with a smile. "I felt like I was anyway."

Impressive in a pinch

Freshman Tyler Moore had been behind the plate a handful of times this season, but he had never started an SEC game coming into the final weekend of the regular season.

Tyler Moore

That changed when Snikeris was unavailable for Friday's second game and only in an emergency on Saturday.

Moore got the start at catcher in both games and was very solid. The Gamecocks managed to swipe only two bases in each game, but one could have been an out had JaCoby Jones timed the tag better.

There also no wild pitches or passed balls in 19 innings, despite Moore catching six different pitchers he had rarely worked with in a game.

"He did tremendous," Snikeris said. "Me getting hit in the finger was unfortunate, but that's what a championship team has – you've got everybody coming in and stepping up and doing the job. That's exactly what he did. I'm very proud of him."

Offensively, Moore also produced with three hits – including a pair of RBI singles.

Close call = comfort zone

It was probably fitting that LSU's bid for an SEC championship was decided by a one-run game.

After all, in 30 league contests, the Tigers found themselves in games settled by the narrowest of margins 17 times.

LSU was 12-5 in one-run games, with relievers accounting for eight of those wins and closer Nick Goody saving 8 games.

SEC Tournament info

LSU heads to Hoover as the No. 1 seed, which means a first-round bye.

The Tigers' first game will be the second game of the second round on Wednesday. Their pool includes No. 4 seed Kentucky, No. 9 seed Ole Miss, No. 6 seed Arkansas and No. 7 seed Mississippi State. LSU was 8-4 against the group this season.

Click here for the complete tournament bracket.

Around the horn

  • LSU's 42-14 record is its best in the regular season since 1997 when the Tigers were 45-11 on the way to a College World Series championship.

  • Heading into the postseason, LSU has the SEC leader in batting average (Raph Rhymes at .469), hits (Rhymes with 92), on-base average (Rhymes .522), runs (Mason Katz with 66), batters struck out (Kevin Gausman with 118), walks issued (Aaron Nola 6), pitching appearances (Nick Goody 30) and innings pitched (Gausman 100.2). Gausman is second with 9 wins and Goody is tied for second with 10 saves.

    As a team, the Tigers are atop the league stats in runs scored (356) and batters struck out (497).

  • In 18 games vs. ranked foes during the regular season (all in SEC games), the Tigers were 12-6. When the opponents were in the top 5 (Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina), LSU was 8-4.

  • Mainieri joins Skip Bertman, Jim Smith and Harry Rabenhorst as the only coaches to lead LSU to multiple SEC regular-season championships. The Tigers shared the crown with Ole Miss in 2009. Bertman guided LSU to eight SEC crowns, while Smith and Rabenhorst notched a pair of crowns. Mainieri has also led the Tigers to three SEC Tournament titles – 2008, '09 and '10.

  • Saturday's win was LSU's sixth in 10 SEC series finales. Four of those came in road games, two against teams ranked No. 1 in at least one poll (Florida, South Carolina).

  • The Tigers won three of five rubber games, two on the road – against the Gators and Gamecocks. LSU notched a pair or SEC sweeps (Arkansas, Alabama) and were not swept.

    All alone at the top

    SERIES WRAP: LSU 3, South Carolina 2 (10)

    GAME 2: Photo finish

    GAME 1: Getting off on the right foot


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