LSU comes back to win SEC Tournament opener

LSU overcame a five-run deficit to beat Auburn, 9-8, in the purple and gold's opening game to the SEC Tournament.

LSU’s SEC tournament-opening game began as poorly as one could imagine, but all was forgotten by the end.

LSU fell behind Auburn five runs in the first inning Wednesday but overcame the deficit with a massive sixth to pull off a 9-8 victory in Hoover, Ala. That pushes Paul Mainieri’s record to 6-2 in first games of the SEC Tournament.

LSU moves into the winner’s bracket to face Arkansas on Thursday at approximately 8 p.m. or 30 minutes after the conclusion of Texas A&M and Arkansas.

LSU was fortunate to get past that first game though. It was the largest deficit in an SEC Tournament game an LSU team has overcome under Paul Mainieri, and it was only the third time this season that LSU had trailed in a game by five or more runs. LSU split the previous two instances but came out on the winning end in this one.

The comeback started with a massive six-run sixth inning, which LSU entered trailing 8-3.

Jared Foster kicked it all off with a leadoff double, his second hit of the game after crushing a three-run homer in the second inning. He scored on a single up the middle by Jake Fraley, and Conner Hale brought in two more with another base hit to center.

Kade Scivicque brought LSU within a run, blasting a double to deep center field. Chris Chinea tied it two at-bats later with the third extra-base hit of the inning.

Chris Sciambra then put the Tigers ahead with a single to right, making it 9-8.

Auburn had three chances to tie it after that.

Auburn got a runner to second in the seventh after a pair of walks by Hunter Newman. Zac Person closed the door though with a swinging strikeout on three pitches.

Auburn got the leadoff man aboard in the next inning on a single, its first hit since the fourth inning. The runner stole second with two outs, but Person got another strikeout to strand him there.

Auburn had another runner in scoring position in the ninth, after a one-out walk and groundout. Parker Bugg closed it out and earned the save by getting the final batter of the game to strike out looking.

The game may not have been that tight late if not for the disastrous start by Jared Poché. He lasted only one inning, his shortest outing of the season. The trouble began with a pair of one-out walks followed by an error recorded to Chris Chinea on a toss to first.

That led to three runs — two earned — on three hits before Poché finally escaped the inning. He’s given up at least three runs in each of his last four starts, including a combined nine in the last seven innings.

Auburn tagged Jake Godfrey for two more on three hits in the third. Doug Norman gave up another in the fourth, but he retired six straight batters after a leadoff single that inning. That helped steady the ship as Auburn didn’t score again.

LSU used seven pitchers Wednesday and five of them combined to surrender just one run on two hits through the final six innings of the game.

None of LSU’s pitchers threw more than 35 pitches, so the entire bullpen will likely be available Thursday. Austin Bain is set to start it on the mound.

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