Yesterday, the Bulldogs struck first bullying LSU 9-2. This morning, the Vols followed suit.
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
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.
"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,"
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
Dirks allowed the first two
Volunteers to reach in the bottom of the fifth and
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.
- LSU's loss was their fifth straight in the SEC tournament, dating back to 2003
Today's game marked the first time
- 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)
LSU first baseman Blake Gill's
fifth inning homerun was his sixth of the season and first since April 12 vs.