Tigers hold off BSC in extra innings

Those pesky Panthers just don't seem to get that they're playing out of their league. Or are they? For the second straight night, Birmingham-Southern College overcame a run deficit in the eighth inning to give LSU a game of it. It took the Tigers until the bottom of the 13th inning to put the Panthers away, 6-5, Saturday at Alex Box Stadium.

Aaron Hill's two-out shot just inside the left-field line gave the Tigers two runs and their second last-inning victory in as many games.

"Birmingham-Southern is a tremendous ball club," LSU head coach Smoke Laval said. "That's why they were (NAIA) national champs last year. A very good club. They have a system, both offensively and pitching and it's hard to crack it.

"It's a great sign that we can come back like that again. That means we're never out of it."

Freshman pitcher Jason Determann shined in relief for the Tigers, pitching all four extra innings, allowing only two hits and a run in his first college appearance.

"Coach Canevari always said there wouldn't be any pressure the first time I pitched," Determann said. "That wasn't the case tonight. Coming in in the tenth, tie ballgame runners on bases. I say that was a little pressure on me. I was ready to step up, though."

The game began as a pitcher's duel, with BSC's Jon Renfro and LSU's Lane Mestepey each masterfully shutting down the other team's offenses. The Tigers' single run in the bottom of the first inning resulted in a 1-0 score that would remain until LSU (2-0) added a run in the sixth and another in the seventh. Then in the eighth, things got interesting when the Panthers got into LSU's bullpen and decided to start playing ball.

Mestepey picked up where he left off last season, facing nine batters before yielding a base hit. After walking BSC leadoff man Adam Pease to open the game, Mestepey retired the next five batters before Tiger center fielder David Raymer lost Panther left fielder Michael Cline's hit in the sun, resulting in a two-base error. Mestepey struck out the next two batters before giving up his first hit, a two-out single to left by Cory Hamrick in the third inning.

Raymer scored in the first run when Hill grounded into a 4-3 fielder's choice. Through the next five innings, neither Mestepey nor Renfro faced more than four batters in an inning, and only a single base runner made it past second base.

LSU's second run came in the bottom of the fifth when BSC shortstop Michael Wydner's failed to complete a double play, allowing LSU first baseman Blake Gill to score

Hill made the score 3-0 in the seventh with a sacrifice fly to center that plated second baseman Rocky Scelfo.

The Panthers opened the eighth with back-to-back doubles for their first run and chased Mestepey from the game. His day included two earned runs, one walk and six strikeouts.

Reliever Brad David took over with a runner on second, and Panther designated hitter Adam Tucker tied the game with a homer to left on a 1-2 pitch.

BSC took the lead in the top of the tenth inning when third baseman Connor Robertson reached on a walk and advanced to second on a Tucker single. Tiger reliever Brian Wilson was pulled in favor of Determann, who gave up a dribbler to BSC catcher Jon Prince. Robertson scored when Hill charged the slow-rolling ball and, in a hurried attempt to make the play at the plate, was unable to filed the ball.

"Hill's error was do-or-die," Laval said. "Either he makes the play or everybody's safe. That's a tough play to make. Remember, it's only his second game here as a shortstop."

LSU tied the game in the bottom of the inning with station-to-station play when first baseman Eric Wiethorn scored on Darren Welch's sacrifice fly.

BSC took the lead once more in the top of the 13th when first baseman John Crew reached with a leadoff single and scored two batters later on Pat Mizerany's sacrifice to right. The score was questionable due to what could be called a blown call by third-base umpire Lyall Boudreaux. After a pitch to Mizerany, Welch gunned the ball down to third to catch Crew sleeping with a big lead. Pontiff caught the throw and tumbled onto Crew — who was diving back to the bag — apparently tagging Crew out. Boudreaux ruled Crew safe, prompting a visit from Laval.

The decision had been made, however, and Crew scored on the next pitch for Determann's only earned run of the night in what was otherwise a superb performance.

"The big thing was I was able to throw my curve whenever I wanted," Determann said. "I was able to get ahead in the count and do whatever I wanted to."

Scelfo led the bottom of the inning off with a single to right and took second on Raymer's sacrifice bunt. Barker walked ahead of Pontiff's strikeout, bringing Hill to the plate with runners on first and second with two outs. Hill had been in similar situations that would have let him tie or win the game in both the eleventh and ninth innings only to fly out both times.

An 0-1 pitch landed six inches inside fair territory down the left field line and skidded into the corner. Scelfo and Barker, who with two outs were running on the pitch, were able to score easily, giving LSU the 6-5 victory.

"The third time was the charm," Hill said. "Luckily we had the chance to get that third time. It was an inside fastball both times. The second time I just got a better hack at it, had better bat speed, and it fell in."

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