LSU rallies to beat Texas A&M, clinch series

No. 1 LSU scored seven runs in the final two innings to rally for a 9-6 victory against No. 2 Texas A&M and clinch the series.

Is it safe to say this series has matched the hype?

No. 1 LSU (37-6, 14-5 SEC) scored seven runs in the final two innings Friday to overcome a three-run deficit and clinch the series with a 9-6 victory against No. 2 Texas A&M (36-7, 12-7). A night after the Tigers won in walk-off fashion, LSU needed more late heroics to secure victory.

Call it that “Alex Box magic.”

“Is there a better place to be?” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It was just another tremendous game, a tremendous victory for our kids. Two teams giving each other their best shot.”

LSU entered the seventh inning, trailing 5-2 after struggling all night to find an answer for A&M starter Ryan Hendrix. He’d struck out nine batters to that point, baffling the LSU hitters with his 93 mph fastball and sharp slider.

But something finally clicked in that seventh inning.

LSU opened it with three straight singles, the third brought in LSU’s first run since the second inning. Chris Sciambra laid down a safety squeeze in the next at-bat to cut the deficit to just one.

Hendrix faced one more batter before leaving the game.

“We think of ourselves as a high-caliber hitting team,” said Jake Fraley, who had two hits off Hendrix. “When he consistently goes to that slider, eventually we’ll come around, and that’s what we were able to do.”

That brought Alex Bregman to the plate against reliever Mark Ecker with runners on first and second. Bregman fouled off four straight pitches before finally connecting for a double down the left field line.

“You could watch baseball for 100 years and never see a greater battle between a pitcher and a hitter,” Mainieri said. “Fortunately for us, Alex Bregman got the best of it.”

He certainly did. Bregman’s shot produced two runs to give LSU a 6-5 lead, unleashing a roar from the sold out, Alex Box crowd.

“This environment is second to none,” Bregman said. “We have the best fans in the country…and we gave them what they came for.”

The Tigers kept rolling in the eighth. Andrew Stevenson started it with a one-out single, and Chris Chinea drove him in with a double to left. Fraley followed that with an RBI-triple, and one more run scored on a groundout by Jared Foster.

LSU scored seven runs on eight hits in those final two innings to pull away from the Aggies.

“The way we battle, the way we fight, if we continue to do that, we’ll have a chance to accomplish every goal we’ve set,” Bregman said.

A&M didn’t go down quietly though. The Aggies did produce a threat against LSU reliever Hunter Newman in the ninth. A&M 1B Hunter Melton opened the inning with a double to left, and 3B Ronnie Gideon singled behind him to put runners on the corners.

The Aggies scored one run on an error, leaving runners on first and third with one out. But Newman induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the game and clinch the series for LSU.

“We did what it took to eke out another hard-fought victory in the SEC against an outstanding team,” Mainieri said. “We’ll take it.”

LSU can complete the sweep Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. Austin Bain will make his second career SEC start. Texas A&M has not announced a starter as of Friday night.

This is the third time this season that LSU has won the first two games of an SEC series. The Tigers swept Alabama, and had Game 3 against Georgia last week rained out.

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