No. 3 LSU’s first extra-inning game of the season ended in disappointment Saturday, as the Tigers fell to Ole Miss, 5-3, in 14.
The Rebels (10-8, 1-1 SEC) tied it with a run in the top of the ninth to force the bonus baseball, and they took the lead with two more in the 14th. LSU (17-2, 1-1) couldn’t capitalize on key opportunities, going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and three times stranding a runner on third in extra innings.
Ole Miss’ win evens the series, and the two will meet once more Sunday at 3 p.m. to decide it.
“We have to come back to work tomorrow and be ready to swing the bats better than we did today,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri.
LSU had a 3-2 lead entering the ninth inning, with Jesse Stallings on the mound going for his ninth save of the year. He gave up a leadoff single then walked the next batter he faced.
Sikes Orvis tied it with a single to right, resulting in Stallings’ first blown save.
It was Orvis again that hurt LSU in the 14th After 12 straight Ole Miss batters were retired in extra innings, J.B. Woodman set the table with leadoff walk. Orvis took the next pitch off Kyle Bouman for an RBI-double to left-center field.
Errol Robinson would tack on another insurance run with a two-out single, making it 5-3.
LSU had its chances though before that dreadful 14th.
Danny Zardon got a leadoff double in the 10th. He advanced to third on a pop fly to right. Then Mark Laird drilled a liner directly to Orvis at first. He made the catch then fired to third to double off Zardon and end the inning.
LSU again got a runner to third in the 12th after a one-out double by Jared Foster and groundout by Zardon. But Jake Fraley grounded out to short and ended that threat.
The Tigers’ final chance came in the 14th. Conner Hale started the inning with a single, and Kade Scivicque got one of his own two at-bats later. Zardon drew a walk with two outs to load the bases, bringing Fraley back to the plate with a chance to tie it.
He sent a pop fly to left field, but Kyle Watson tracked it all the way to the foul line to record the game-winning out.
“We were trying,” Mainieri said. “We just couldn’t get the hit, and a couple things went against us. This is how the SEC is. Everybody can beat everybody.”
The loss spoiled a heck of a performance by LSU starter Alex Lange. He struck out 13 batters in eight innings, surrendering just two runs (one earned) on three hits with no walks. He struck out the side on three occasions, including his final inning of work.
That strikeout total contributed to a combined 22 on the night by the Tiger pitching staff, the most by LSU in a game since 1959.
The only runs Lange allowed came on a stolen base and sacrifice fly in the third.
Lange left the game with a 3-2 lead, but received the no decision after Stallings’ blown save.
“He was just a monster out there, a beast,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He pitched his heart out. It’s a shame that we couldn’t win the game for him.”
LSU’s only successful inning at the plate came in the fourth. Facing a 2-0 deficit, Chris Chinea reached on an error with one out, and Hale singled to put two on. Scivicque brought in one run with a single, and Foster put the Tigers ahead with a two-run double.
That lead would only last until the ninth though.
Jake Godfrey (3-0, 1.69 ERA) will get the start for LSU in Sunday’s rubber match. Ole Miss will counter with Sam Smith (1-2, 6.41 ERA).
LSU falls in extras to Ole Miss, 5-3
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