LSU splits doubleheader with Tennessee

After losing the first game of a double-header in Knoxville, Tenn., LSU roared back from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Volunteers, 16-4, in the nightcap of the twin bill at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.<br><br> The Tigers fell 2-1 in the first game which rain postponed from Friday night.

LSU's bats pounded out 24 hits in the second game, half of which came in the seventh and eighth innings alone. The hit total was the most for LSU since last season's 24 against Duquesne.

LSU right fielder Sean Barker led the Tiger barrage with a 4-for-5 performance that included three doubles, a home run and four RBI. Center fielder Matt Heath broke out of a slump by going 5-for-6 with a double and an RBI. His five hits also tied a team record for base hits in a game.

Tiger starter Brian Wilson had a difficult start, being touched for four runs on four hits in bottom of first inning, but the right-hander settled in and tossed seven consecutive shutout innings before yielding the mound to Jason Vargas in the ninth.

Tennessee third baseman Nick Crowe led off the Vol first inning with a triple and scored on Jordan Czarniecki's single. After Wilson walked Ryan Moffett, Czarniecki scored on a single by Brandon Hopkins, and Matt Sternberg plated two more with a hard shot through the gap.

Tennessee carried a 4-0 lead going to the next inning, but Wilson would not allow another run for the remainder of the game. Wilson (W, 7-3) struck out a career-high eleven batters while walking only four, and has fanned 27 batters in 22 2/3 innings during his last three starts.

Tennessee left-hander Jeffrey Terrell, who got the save in the afternoon game, started the second game and shut out Tigers through first three innings. He allowed only two runs -- solo homers to Eric Wiethorn in the fourth inning and Aaron Hill in the fifth -- before the Tigers broke things loose in the seventh, when LSU sent nine batters to the plate, rapped out five hits and scored six runs.

Ahead 4-2 in the top of the seventh, Terrell (L, 4-7) yielded a leadoff walk to LSU shortstop Aaron Hill. After Wally Pontiff flied out to right, Barker blasted a Terrell offering well over the left-field fence to tie the game at four. Wiethorn struck out, but a double by Heath chased Terrell from the game.

Terrell finished the game with ten strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on ten hits, including three home runs.

Volunteer Joey Andrews took the mound in relief, but the Tiger hit parade continued.

Andrews intentionally walked pinch hitter Blake Gill then gave up an RBI single up the middle to Chris Phillips. David Raymer and J.C. Holt combined for three more runs on back-to-back hits, and the Tigers finished the frame with an 8-4 lead.

The floodgates stay open for LSU in the eighth, when ten Tigers came to bat and pounded out seven more hits and plated another six runs. Andrews bore the brunt of the damage, allowing the first five batters of the inning to hit safely, including another big Barker hit -- this time an RBI double.

Dustin Hahn added another RBI double, and both Phillips and J.C. Holt drove in runs on singles. At the end of eight, LSU had a commanding 14-4 lead over Tennessee.

The Tigers added their final two runs of the evening off of reliever Brian St. Jean, who gave up back-to-back doubles to Pontiff and Barker and an RBI single to Heath.

The victory gave LSU (32-16, 13-9 Southeastern Conference) sole possession of second place the SEC West due to Saturday losses by Alabama and Ole Miss. The Tigers are a half-game ahead of the Rebels and 2 1/2 behind the Crimson Tide in the overall SEC race. Tennessee fell to 24-24 overall and 9-14 in league play.

LSU came up on the short end of a highly competitive pitcher's duel in the first game, failing to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation with one out in their final at-bat while trailing 2-1.

Tennessee starter Ben Riley (W, 5-2) held had the Tigers to one run on four hits when he was pulled from the game with one out in the top of the ninth. Hill had singled against Riley to start off the inning, and Barker greeted reliever Terrell with a base hit.

Wiethorn drew a walk to load the bases, but Heath fought a Terrell pitch off his hands and grounded it back to the pitcher for a 1-2-3 double play that ended the game. Terrell came away with his sixth save of the season.

Barker posted the game's first run with a solo homer to right field to lead off the seventh inning. It was Barker's fourth homerun of the year and just the third hit of the game against Riley.

The first two LSU hits had come in the sixth – a leadoff single from Phillips and Rocky Scelfo's one-out base hit. Riley struck out Hill and got Pontiff to fly out to right to end the Tiger threat.

Riley finished the game with four strikeouts and no walks. The only LSU hitter to reach base before Phillips' single was Jon Zeringue, who got to second base in the top of third when Czarniecki, Vols' Tennessee centerfielder, dropped a fly ball at the warning track.

Czarniecki would more than make up for his mistake in the eighth inning with a two-run, game-winning double.

Before the top of the eighth, LSU starter Lane Mestepey (L, 9-3) had allowed only one hit and retired the first two batters in the inning before Hunter Rigsby reached on an infield single. Crowe followed with a single to right and Czarniecki put the Volunteers the lead with his hit down the right field line.

Mestepey finished the game with three strikeouts and a walk, taking his first loss since March 16 in LSU's SEC opening series against Vanderbilt.

The teams will wrap up the three-game series with the rubber match Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

Tiger Blitz Top Stories