Tigers ousted 0-2 – AGAIN!

HOOVER – Tennessee followed Mississippi State's example. The LSU Tigers defeated the Volunteers and Bulldogs in consecutive weekend series ending the regular season to close out an SEC Western Division title. Both Tennessee and State got their revenge.

Yesterday, the Bulldogs struck first bullying LSU 9-2. This morning, the Vols followed suit.


Tennessee scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 5-1 victory over Smoke Laval's club. The Tigers (38-20) fell behind 2-0 in the first inning and trailed 3-0 before Blake Gill's solo home run in the fifth made it a two-run game again.


However, Kelly Edmundson's towering, two-run shot in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Jason Determann sealed LSU's fate. The Tigers stranded 10 men on base, including six in scoring position.


For the first time in SEC baseball history, LSU went 0-2 in the conference tournament in consecutive years. A year ago the Tigers dropped back-to-back decisions to Florida and Georgia.


Tennessee (40-18) sent all-American Luke Hochevar to the hill. Hochevar, the nation's leader in wins, already owned one win over LSU defeating the Tigers 9-2 two weeks ago. In seven innings of work, the nation's top hurler allowed eight hits, but surrendered one run with eight strikeouts.


Hochevar credited his previous win over LSU for his stellar showing today.


"I faced LSU two weeks ago, and I think that was to my advantage because I was able to study the hitters and still had them fresh on my mind," Hochevar said. "I wanted to use as few pitches as possible and just let my defense play behind me. LSU is a good hitting club, and they had some big hits to put pressure on me. I just continued to execute pitches."


Hochevar retired LSU in order to open the game, then got the cushion he needed to control the Tigers over the next six frames. Tennessee plated a pair of runs off LSU starter Clay Dirks, which in the end, proved enough for the victory.


"When you get behind in the first and you have a guy like Luke (Hochevar) who pitched well, but he also gave us our chances to play," Laval said. "It was hard to play catch up after the first inning. After they scored, they began playing with a like a confident ballclub behind the pitching of Luke."


After giving up the two-run spot in the first, Dirks settled in and retired the Volunteers in order in the second and third frames. With two outs in the fourth, it looked as Dirks had logged another routine inning, but an error by first baseman Blake Gill allowed the inning to continue and the Volunteers made it hurt scoring another run raising their lead to 3-0.


"When you give up two early in the first, it is hard to overcome that," Dirks said. "With a pitcher like Luke (Hochevar) a team will play well behind him. They were a good ball club and did well today. I felt like I threw some good pitches, but they were a good hitting ball club and it was tough out there today."


Bruce Sprowl opened the fifth with a strikeout and Ryan Patterson flied out to center for the second out before Gill launched a Hochevar offering over the right field wall for what would be LSU's only run of the game.


"I had a good hitting count when I was at the plate and he gave me a good pitch to hit," Gill said. "He (Hochevar) threw the ball well all day. Besides my hit, he played a great game and kept shutting us down when it counted most."


Patterson, who was named a first team all-American this morning by Sports Weekly Magazine, went 0 for 5 versus Tennessee with two strikeouts. In the tournament, Patterson combined to go 0 for 10 with five strikeouts. Coupled with a 2 for 14 showing in the final regular season series at Mississippi State, Patterson is 2 for 24 in his last two dozen plate appearances.


Dirks allowed the first two Volunteers to reach in the bottom of the fifth and Laval called on Determann. Tennessee loaded the bases with one out, but Determann worked his way out of the jam and escaped the inning surrendering no runs.


Pinch hitter Quinn Stewart prompted a key moment for the Tigers in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double. However, LSU failed to score when Hochevar struck out the side retiring Chris Jackson, Derek Hebert and Dustin Weaver on strikes.


LSU's last threat came in the top of the seventh when Sprowl drew a leadoff walk. He advanced to second on a fielder's choice by Gill and moved to third when Hochevar balked. However Nick Stavinoha's groundout to third made it all for naught as Sprowl became the Tigers' 8th stranded base runner.


Edmundson's two-run jack came in the bottom of the seventh and took what little wind remained in LSU's sails. The Tigers had two runners on base in the eighth when Clay Harris and Jackson each walked, but Hebert struck out and Weaver flied to left to all but close the books on LSU.


Speaking of Weaver, who played in place of an injured Matt Liuzza, the senior catcher ended four different innings in which the Tigers had runners in scoring position.


In the second, LSU had runners at the corners with two outs. Weaver grounded into a 6-4 fielder's choice ending the threat. Two innings later, the Tigers had the bases juiced with two outs. The result, Weaver grounded out to shortstop ending the inning. Weaver struck out in the sixth leaving Stewart at third and his fly out in the eighth totaled eight Tigers left on base, six of which were in scoring position.


Dirks (10-3) took the loss. In four innings pitched, the sophomore southpaw gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits with three strikeouts and a trio of walks. Determann also went four frames, giving up two runs on four hits with three strikeouts.


Jackson and Hebert combined for half of LSU's eight hits each picking up two singles a piece. Stewart's fifth inning double proved to be the Tigers' only extra base hit of the tournament.


LSU now awaits an NCAA Regional bid, which will be announced on Monday. Regional sites will be announced on ESPNews on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. CDT.





Tennessee's victory is their first ever over LSU in the SEC tournament. The Tigers took the first two meetings between the teams, beating the Vols 3-1 in 1996 and 12-5 in 1997


- LSU's loss was their fifth straight in the SEC tournament, dating back to 2003

Today's game marked the first time in Tennessee outfielder Eli Iorg's career, 115 games, that he did not appear in the game for the Vols


- LSU went two-and-out for the second consecutive year in the SEC tournament. This is the first time in Tiger history that they have failed to win at least one game in the tournament in back-to-back seasons.

- LSU has only gone two-and-out in the SEC tournament three times in their history (1985, 2004, 2005)


- Tennessee pitcher Luke Hochevar recorded his 14th win of the season, tying him with R.A. Dickey, who won 14 games in 1995, for second on UT's single-season win list

LSU first baseman Blake Gill's fifth inning homerun was his sixth of the season and first since April 12 vs. Northwestern State. Gill also extended his hitting streak to a team-high six games


- Tennessee third baseman Chase Headley walked for the 59th time this season, which leads the SEC and leaves him two walks away from tying Todd Helton's single-season record set in 1995.


- Tennessee improves their SEC tournament record to 23-18, while LSU falls to 49-32

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