Jake Fraley became the hero when his single to center in the 10th inning brought in Conner Hale for the game-winning run. LSU got three straight hits to lead off that frame to pull off their fifth victory this season in extra innings.
Hale kicked off the rally with a leadoff single, making him 7-for-13 on the weekend. He advanced to third on another base hit by Kade Scivicque, who took second on the throw to third.
Up came Fraley with first base open, but Missouri opted to pitch to him. He connected with a fastball to give LSU the win and its second SEC sweep of the season.
“They got some big hits for us,” Fraley said of Hale and Scivicque. “They were able to get the job done, and it was huge. It’s a big part of the reason we’re winning right now.”
Danny Zardon committed a costly error with LSU clinging to a one-run lead. That was his first of the weekend after replacing Jared Foster in the starting lineup. Zardon allowed a soft grounder to slip under his glove for a two-base error.
Missouri tied it with a double in the next at-bat. That marked the seventh time in the last seven weeks that LSU has blown a lead in the ninth.
But LSU made up for it with that big tenth inning.
“It’s hard to win three games in a row,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We get a walk-off win at home, and we’re on to the last week of the season.”
LSU was fortunate to have the game tied when they went to bat in the 10th. Missouri loaded the bases with one out in the top half of the inning. Russell Reynolds had entered the game after Jesse Stallings surrendered consecutive hits to start the inning.
After intentionally walking a batter to make a force at every base, Reynolds induced a chopper to third. Hale corralled it, stepped on the third base bag and fired to first for the inning-ending double play.
“Once I saw the high chopper to my backhand, I knew right away I was touching third and going to first,” Hale said. “I was pumped up and ready to go win the game.”
This game proved to be a lot more tense than the previous two, in which LSU outscored Missouri 16-5. LSU was playing catch-up Sunday from the beginning.
Instead of starting Austin Bain, as LSU had the previous two weeks, Mainieri opted instead for Kyle Bouman in Game 3 of the series. The senior who occupied a spot in the weekend rotation last season, hadn’t started a game against an SEC team this year and had just one appearance out of the bullpen in a conference game.
His outing Sunday wouldn’t be one to remember though. He recorded only one out and faced four batters before exiting with a 3-0 deficit. Missouri 3B Josh Lester took him deep for a three-run homer after a walk and infield single.
Bain relieved him after that and proved just how perfect hindsight is.
Bain struck out six straight upon entering the game. He finished with seven and allowed just two hits, retiring 16 of the 18 batters he faced.
Bain didn’t know whether he did enough to earn his spot back in the rotation. He just knows this was a big improvement from allowing seven runs in his last two starts.
“It feels a lot better,” Bain said. “This was a huge confidence boost for me.”
Bain’s performance kept LSU within striking distance, and the home team took advantage with four unanswered runs to take the lead.
LSU got the comeback started with a pair of runs in the second. LSU got fourt straight hits at one point, including an RBI-single by Conner Hale. Chris Chinea brought in the second run with a sacrifice fly.
LSU tacked on two more in the next inning, both of which came in on RBI-singles by Hale and Kade Scivicque, the latter giving LSU a 4-3 lead
Missouri would tie it 4-4 with a solo home run off Bain in the sixth inning.
Chris Chinea got one of his own in the bottom half of that inning to give LSU back the lead, until the Tigers blew it in the ninth.
LSU still pulled out the victory though and increased their lead in the SEC.