Tigers upend South Carolina 12-7 - win series

In their most important game of the season, the LSU Tigers relied on a pair of Matt Liuzza home runs to win Sunday's rubber match 12-7 at South Carolina.

The top-ranked Tigers (18-3, 2-1 SEC) won the SEC opening weekend series taking two of three games from the previously unbeaten and third-ranked Gamecocks (19-2, 2-1). LSU now prepares from Ron Polk's Mississippi State Bulldogs, who visit Alex Box Stadium for a three-game weekend set. The series opens Friday with a 6:30 start.

 

Record crowds turned out to see LSU and South Carolina duke it out at Sarge-Frye Field. USC, who has beaten LSU in seven of the last 12 games entering Sunday's matchup, was the team who ousted Smoke Laval's Tigers from the College World Series in 2003. LSU was ready for a little payback.

 

After the Gamecocks posted a 1-0 lead with a run in the bottom of the first, Liuzza evened the score with a solo shot in the top of the second. Three innings later, Liuzza was at it again belting a 3-run homer fueling a 5-run fourth inning and LSU was on its way to the clutch SEC victory.

 

South Carolina starter Matt Campbell (4-1), who hadn't allowed an earned run in 28.2 innings of work, was roughed up for six runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings. The junior left-hander entered Sunday's contest having only allowed 10 hits all season.

 

Nate Bumstead (3-0) went six innings, allowing six earned runs on eight hits, to pick up his third win of the season.

 

Following Steve Pearce's RBI double, the Tigers scored six unanswered runs over the first four innings to get on the board. LSU knotted the score at one on Liuzza's second-inning leadoff homer.

 

The sophomore catcher wasn't done yet. After Ryan Patterson and J.C. Holt reached to begin the fourth, Liuzza greeted Campbell for his second homer of the day and third of the series, extending the lead to 4-1.

 

Campbell gave way to Jason Fletcher after Will Harris delivered a two-run single that scored Zeringue and Nick Stavinoha. Harris finished the day 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBI.

 

Bumstead set down six straight batters between the third and fourth innings, including the first two Gamecocks to start the fifth, but South Carolina mounted a three-run, two-out rally to cut the score to 6-4.

 

Bryan Triplett and Steve Pearce delivered RBI singles, while Landon Powell collected his sixth and seventh RBI of the series on his two-run triple.

 

The Tigers seemingly put the game away in the sixth and seventh innings, scoring four runs to stretch the lead to 10-4. Will Harris drove in his third run of the day on an RBI single that plated Blake Gill. Jon Zeringue smashed his first of two solo-homers on the day in the seventh, and Gill followed with an RBI double that scored Clay Harris.

 

South Carolina took advantage of four LSU walks to narrow the deficit to 10-6 in the seventh. Clay Dirks relieved Bumstead and walked Powell and Michael Campbell, only to get out of the inning on a critical runner's interference call that erased what would have been the Gamecocks seventh run.

Tommy King grounded to shortstop Matt Horwath who flipped to Gill at second to get Campbell. Campbell interfered with Horwath at second base, and by ruling, King was out on a double play to retire the side.

 

LLSU padded the lead in the top of the ninth on Zeringue's sixth homer of the season and Ryan Patterson's RBI single.

 

Clay Dirks registered the first save of his career, working three innings to close out the game, while allowing one run on one hit.

 

Seventeen of the Tigers' 39 hits came on Sunday, the most by LSU since collecting 20 hits in a 19-1 win over Jacksonville State on February 22.

 

 

Game One: Saturday, March 19

LSU 6, South Carolina 3 (11 innings)

 

LSU scored three 11th inning runs on a hit batter and four singles Friday night to knock South Carolina from the unbeaten list in a battle of Southeastern Conference baseball Titans.

 

Greg Smith, 1-0, who worked two innings of relief, earned the win. Chad Blackwell, 1-1, was charged with the loss.

 

Jon Zeringue was hit by a pitch to open the top of the 11th inning. He moved to second base on a wild pitch. Clay Harris struck out but Ivan Naccarata singled up the middle to drive in Zeringue and break a 3-3 tie. Matt Horwath popped to the mound for the second out, but J. C. Holt singled and Ryan Patterson followed with a hit to drive in Naccarata. Zac McCamie replaced Blackwell and gave up an RBI single to Blake Gill before retiring the side.

 

Steven Reinhold walked with one out in the bottom of the 11th but Smith struck out pinch hitter Hank Parks and Steven Tolleson to end the game.

 

South Carolina took a 1-0 lead with a first inning run. Tolleson was hit by a pitch, took second on the first of four hits by Landon Powell on his 22nd birthday, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an infield hit by Brendan Winn. Powell extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

 

South Carolina starter Billy Buckner retired the first 14 LSU batters but Zeringue hit his fourth home run of the season to tie the score at 1-1. LSU added single runs in the sixth and eighth innings to lead 3-1. Matt Horwath led off the sixth with a double, was sacrificed to third, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Patterson. Horwath singled in the eighth, was sacrificed to second, and scored on a base hit by Patterson.

 

In the bottom of the eighth Powell singled for his third hit and scored ahead of the fifth home run of the season by Winn, who drove in all three Gamecock runs. Powell's four hits included a pair of doubles and he accounted for half the eight hit South Carolina total. Winn had two and the other Gamecock hits were by Tolleson and Davy Gregg who beat out a bunt.

 

Patterson, Gill, Harris and Horwath each had two of 12 hits by LSU. Patterson drove in three runs.

Three LSU pitchers struck out 12 South Carolina batters, walked four and hit two in 11 innings. Four South Carolina pitchers struck out 11, walked two and also hit to batters.

 

 

Game Two: Saturday, March 20

South Carolina 12, LSU 5

 

Landon Powell drove in five runs with three hits, including a three run homer Saturday as South Carolina defeated Louisiana State 12-5 to even a baseball series between to Southeastern Conference giants.

 

Aaron Rawl pitched 6 2/3 innings to claim the win and improve his record to 5-0. He allowed 10 hits and all five LSU runs, only three of them earned. Freshman left-hander Arik Hempy retired the final seven LSU batters in order on 20 pitches. Jordan Faircloth, the second of three LSU pitchers, was charged with the loss, his second of the season against no wins.

 

LSU took a three run lead with two first inning runs and one in the third. J.C. Holt led off the first with a home run and the Tigers added an unearned tally on an error, a hit and a sacrifice fly. Derek Hebert singled in the third and scored on a double by Ryan Patterson. The homer was the second for Holt.

 

South Carolina took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Tiger starter Lane Mestepey walked Ryan Mahoney and Davy Gregg and Steven Tolleson, attempting to sacrifice, beat out a bunt to load the bases with no outs. Bryan Triplett hit into a double play with Mahoney scoring and Powell followed with a three run homer, his fifth.

 

LSU quickly tied it at 4-4 when Matt Liuzza homered to lead off the fourth inning, his fourth. A hit by Michael Campbell, an error, and a fielder's choice gave the Gamecocks a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning but LSU quickly tied it in the top of the fifth. Holt doubled and later scored on a Gamecock error for the final Tiger run of the day.

 

Powell singled with two outs in the bottom of the fifth and Brendan Winn followed with his sixth home run, second of the series. Campbell doubled and scored the third run of the Gamecock inning on a base hit by Tommy King to stretch the lead to 8-5.

 

South Carolina loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning on walks to Mahoney and Gregg and a sacrifice by Tolleson that turned into a fielder's choice when LSU pitcher Michael Bonura threw to third too late to force pinch runner Steven Reinhold. A base hit by Bryan Triplett scored Reinhold and Gregg.

 

Powell drove in South Carolina's final two runs in the eighth inning with his third hit of the game and seventh hit in the two games of the series. An infield hit by Tolleson and two walks had loaded he bases with two outs to set up the final two RBI.

 

Powell, who had four hits on his 22nd birthday Friday in the first game of the series, a 6-3 LSU win in 11 innings, is seven for 10 in the series and nine for 14 during the week including a two for four night with a home run in a non-conference win over Davidson. Powell stretched his career long hitting streak to 16 games. His season average is .429.

 

Campbell also had three hits Saturday including a double. Tolleson, with two infield singles, was the only other Gamecock with more than one hit. South Carolina's total was 11. LSU had 10 hits with three by Holt the only Tiger with more than one.

- Compiled from university releases


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