Houston slips past LSU in ninth

LSU entered the bottom of the ninth against Houston in their series finale looking to protect a two run lead, but the Cougars were able to score three runs with two outs for a 12-11 win to clinch the series – their second straight series victory over the Tigers in three years.

Three errors were LSU's undoing in the final stanza, producing the tying and go-ahead runs for Houston. With the score at 11-11 and the bases loaded, Cougar second baseman Stuart Musslewhite hit a grounder to short that J.C. Holt bobbled.


LSU third baseman Wally Pontiff retrieved the ball and threw to the plate, but the ball went well above the reach of catcher Darren Welch, allowing Cole Bruce to score the winning run.


LSU (8-3) was forced to play catch-up baseball for all three games, as Houston (6-4) climbed ahead 6-1 after two innings. The momentum appeared to be squarely in the Tigers' corner after they scored eight runs in the top of the sixth, turning a 7-3 game into an 11-7 LSU lead. But the Bengal bats went silent from then on to allow the Cougar a comeback chance, aided greatly by Tiger fielding miscues.


LSU finished the game with seven errors that produced eight unearned runs for Houston.


The star of the game for Houston was Jesse Crain, who performed double duty as the Cougars' shortstop and winning pitcher. In addition to going 3-of-6 at the plate with four runs scored, Crain threw the final 3 1/3 innings to get his second win of the season.


The Tigers were forced to sit their usual Sunday starter, junior Jake Tompkins, who was still experiencing problems with the left oblique muscle he strained a week earlier against Mercer. Freshman Clayton Harris took the mound instead and last two innings, although all four runs Houston scored against him in the second inning were unearned.


LSU had a bases-loaded situation against Cougar starter Taylor Gartz in the third inning, but reliever Nathan Mitchell got pinch hitter Dustin Hahn to ground out to the mound to end the threat.


Brad David replaced Harris to start the third inning and threw well in relief, lasting 3 1/3 innings and allowing one run on three hits. The Tigers crawled back into the game with single runs in the fourth and fifth before sending 13 batters to the plate in the sixth. Pontiff came up to the plate twice and recorded two singles that accounted for three runs.


Crain got Houston out of the sixth and held LSU hitless the rest of the way.


Weylin Guidry took over for David in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded and one out, and got the Tigers out of the jam. He allowed a run in the seventh and left runners on the corners with two out in the eight for Brian Wilson, who threw a wild pitch to let an unearned run cross and make the score 9-11.


A one-out bunt single from left fielder Gabe Lucas got things rolling for Houston in the ninth. Crain followed with a two-out single to left, and Lucas scored when Bruce put the ball in right field right through the legs of LSU first baseman Jason Vargas.

Catcher Chris Snyder tied the game with a single to left, setting the stage for the Musslewhite grounder that ended the game.

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