Tigers rally past Alabama 7-6

Second baseman J.T. Wise went 3-for-4 and broke a 6-6 tie in the eighth with an RBI single Friday night as No. 20 LSU completed a thrilling come-from-behind victory, 7-6, over eighth-ranked Alabama before 4,482 fans at Alex Box Stadium.

The win propelled Smoke Laval to his 200th victory as head coach of the Tigers. LSU (25-11, 5-8 SEC) has posted 11 of its last 13 wins in comeback fashion and owns 16 come-from-behind wins on the season.

 

"The guys just quadrupled their focus," said Laval. "For a couple of weeks now, we have been very opportunistic on getting base hits when we need to."

 

The Crimson Tide (26-11, 9-4) has dropped 10 of its last 13 games in Baton Rouge and fell to second-place overall in the SEC race after South Carolina's defeated Ole Miss Friday.

 

LSU junior left-hander Clay Dirks (3-3, 4.03 ERA) returns to mound at 2 p.m. Saturday in Game 2 of the series. Right-hander Bernard Robert (5-1, 2.79), a transfer from Southeastern Louisiana, is slated to start for Alabama.

 

Right-hander Louis Coleman (4-2) nearly fired a complete game Friday night, hurling 8.2 gutsy innings, while allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits.

 

Coleman was touched for six runs over the first four innings but settled down and blanked the Tide over the final five frames in a 138-pitch outing.

 

"I got the ball up way too much early," said Coleman. "I started throwing down more and my arm got loose. I got more velocity in my fastball as the game went on. I ended up getting ahead with the fastball and then was able to throw the curveball."

 

Eight of LSU's nine position starters collected a hit, including freshman Jarred Bogany, who was 2-for-4 and scored the winning run on Wise's single.

 

Alabama starter Wade LeBlanc did not register a decision after a six-inning outing. LeBlanc, a product of Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La., gave up six runs on nine hits, walked four and struck out five.

 

The Tigers roughed up the ace southpaw for three runs in the first. Shortstop Michael Hollander walked to start the game, and left fielder Bruce Sprowl reached when he was hit by a LeBlanc pitch. Two batters later, Wise chopped a single through the middle to plate Hollander.

 

Catcher Matt Liuzza then immediately pushed his hitting streak to five games, collecting an RBI single of his own. First baseman Steven Waguespack fell behind 0-2 before delivering a single to centerfield, scoring Wise.

 

Liuzza was presented with another RBI chance an inning later with the bases loaded. LeBlanc, however, got the senior catcher to line out to the right-field warning track on a 3-1 pitch.

 

The Tide mounted a comeback against Coleman beginning in the second inning. Third baseman Matt Downs took a fastball into the left field seats for a solo homer. Right fielder Ryan Rhoden then reached on a critical dropped fly ball by Wise. Three batters later, Brandon Belcher pulled Alabama to within a run on a sacrifice fly.

 

Coleman allowed the first two hitters of the third to reach and both would eventually score. Downs lined a one-out double to the right-centerfield gap, and the Tide had its first lead at 4-3.

 

Coleman appeared to be on his way to a scoreless fourth inning after recording two quick outs, but a walk to catcher Kody Valverde proved to be costly. Designated hitter Alex Avila made the freshman pay, crushing a two-run shot over the right field wall.

 

Alabama held a 6-3 lead heading into the bottom half of the fourth when LSU rallied. Sprowl started the uprising with a solo homer inside the right field fair pole, which was his first homer of the season and his first since May 21, 2005.

 

Mayer then connected in the fifth for his third blast in as many games with a solo shot off LeBlanc. In the seventh, Stewart drove a leadoff double to the right field wall. Three pitches later, LeBlanc's outing was over as Wise singled in the tying run through the middle.

 

Meanwhile, Coleman held the Tide in check by retiring nine straight from the sixth into the eighth.

 

An unearned run in the bottom of the eighth would prove to be the difference. Bogany reached on a leadoff infield single against reliever Jordan Davis, but the right-hander was then able to pick up two quick outs.

 

Davis walked Sprowl before Stewart rolled a slow grounder to third, and Downs' throw pulled first baseman Spencer Pennington off the bag. Wise then capped the comeback with his third hit of the game through the left side, scoring Bogany from third.

 

"You just have to get hits when they count -- with guys in scoring position," said Wise. "You can 0-for-5 or whatever but when somebody is on base in scoring position, you need to get that hit. It just happened tonight."

 

Coleman retired the first two batters of the ninth, before walking Kody Valverde and giving way to reliever Daniel Forrer.

 

Forrer induced a groundout from Avila to pick up his second save.

 

Davis (0-2) was charged with the loss, allowing an unearned run on two hits in two innings of relief.

 

LSU 7, Alabama 6 (Apr 14, 2006 at Baton Rouge, La.)

 

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Alabama............. 022 200 000  -  6  9  1      (26-11, 9-4 SEC)

 

LSU.................... 300 110 11X  -  7 11  1      (25-11, 5-8 SEC)

 

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Pitchers: Alabama - LeBlanc; J. Davis(7). LSU - Coleman; Forrer(9).

 

Win-Coleman(4-2)  Save-Forrer(2)  Loss-J. Davis(0-2)  T-2:49  A-8074

 

HR ALABAMA - Avila (3); Downs (3).

 

HR LSU - Sprowl (1); Mayer (5).

 

Actual attendance: 4,482

 

LeBlanc faced 2 batters in the 7th.

 


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