Tigers salvage Sunday's finale win 8-4

In a weekend full of scoring rallies and critical hits, unranked LSU dropped their first home weekend series to unranked Lipscomb 2-1. With the series loss, LSU (8-6) dropped four in a row at home before a Sunday 8-4 win.

The Tigers entered the series following an 8-3 loss on Tuesday against Tulane that placed LSU in a two game losing streak. Their opponent, Lipscomb, located in Nashville, Tenn., entered Friday's game riding a four-game win streak, including a 4-1 victory over Middle Tennessee State Wednesday afternoon. Lipscomb is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference and joined NCAA Division I prior to the 2001 season.


Throughout the weekend, timely hits and scoring rallies were shared by both teams in the series, but it wasn't meant to be for the Tigers on Friday and Saturday with a come from behind win by Lipscomb and an LSU rally that fell short.



Lipscomb 7 LSU 6


Friday's contest began with the Tigers swinging the bats early, but failed to put points on the board late as they dropped another game in late innings. The last three innings have plagued LSU thus far this season, and this weekend was nothing different.


Second-baseman Chris Jackson led his team at the plate with two hits and two RBI. He was followed by a slew of other hitters with a single hit.


Charlie Furbush started on the mound, delivering 5.2 innings of play while giving up four runs on eight hits and five strikeouts. Furbush left the sixth inning with a 5-4 lead, only to watch relief again give up late runs.


"We just need to play a full game," Jackson said.


LSU scored in the first on the quick legs of Jared Mitchell. Mitchell reached on a hit pitch, and then reached home with his speed on a double to right-field by Jackson for the 1-0 score.


Lipscomb answered in the second with a run of their own, and LSU did the same. The Tigers scored two runs in the second on a series of singles and a sacrifice fly with both runs scored by Ochinko and Bozeman.


Unfortunately for the Tigers the Bison came to play. In the top of the third, Lipscomb added two runs on the board. Furbush made a series of errors to start the inning, first with a walk, then a hit batter and finished with balk. He gave up one single up the middle by Ryan Wilkins, which was enough to score two runs.


"When you score runs, you want your best pitcher to shut them down," said Mainieri. "He'd get an 0-2 count on the leadoff hitter and fight back and walk them. You'd like to think that your Friday night starter can shut another team down after you get some runs. You don't blame one person. When you lose it's a total team effort."

With a tied 3-3 ballgame in the third, LSU again managed to put up another run and take the lead back 4-3. Lipscomb loaded the bases with two outs, and Broschofsky earned the third walk of the inning to score Justin Meyer on third.
In the fourth, Mitchell's next at bat was almost a repeat from the first inning. While standing on first after his second walk of the day, Mitchell rounded the bases for his second score on a double to right-field by Jackson. The run put the Tigers up 5-3 and in what they thought was the driver's seat. 
However, Lipscomb managed to tack on another run in the fifth. The run put more pressure on the Tigers, and they answered with a Blake Dean double to right-center that scored Jackson on third. 
Furbush was relieved that same inning, and everything from then on went down hill for the Tigers. Lipscomb scored three runs in the next three innings to change a 6-3 game into a 7-6 victory for the Bison. 
LSU had no answer at the plate. 


"When you don't put up quality at-bats, it's hard to get base runners and it's hard to get them around," said Mainieri. "I am sure the kids are trying. For whatever reason, the pitcher is beating them. They are not getting on base, and we don't have opportunities to get them around to score."

Paul Bertuccini gave up no runs on no hits, but Michael Bonura struggled in relief, giving up two runs on three hits. Nolan Cain also gave up a run with Jared Bradford closing the game for the 7-6 loss.  
Lipscomb 10 LSU 7


For LSU pitching, Saturday was a disaster.


Clay Dirks took the mound to begin the mid-series matchup, but didn't last long going 1.2 innings while giving up six runs on six hits. Dirks struggled from the moment he took the mound. His first three batters recorded two singles and a double, scoring two runs in the top of the first.


Dirks came back out for the second, but only lasted two outs. After two doubles that scored two runs a piece, Matt Jackson replaced Dirks for the next six innings.


Down 6-0 in only the second inning, LSU had plenty of outs left to make a comeback. Sometimes it takes one crack of the bat to revive a team, and on Saturday that persons bat was Sean Ochinko's.


With runners on second and third, Ochinko slammed a home run over the left-field wall to jumpstart the Tigers 6-3.


"We dug ourselves a big hole," said Mainieri. "You'd expect that you wouldn't fall behind 6-0 in less than two innings right out of the gate."


Lipscomb answered with two more runs in the top of the third, but was contained until the eighth inning by Matt Jackson's throwing arm, which left room for an LSU rally.


"I thought Matt Jackson was absolutely outstanding," said Mainieri. "He threw strikes and did a good job for us. He had a couple of tough breaks and gave up a couple of runs."


The Tigers got onto the board again in the sixth when J.T. Wise blasted a two-run home run over the right-field wall to cut the score to 8-5. In the seventh, LSU scored two more runs to cut the lead 8-7.


Ryan Schimpf started things off with a home run over the right field wall. The next batter Mitchell singled and reached second on a fielding error by the right-fielder. A balk sent Mitchell to third, and was finally sent home on a sacrifice fly by Dean to center-field.


With only a one run deficit and four unanswered runs, the last thing LSU wanted to do was give up more runs, and they did.


Lipscomb added each a run in the eight and ninth innings on LSU relief pitching, and with a blink of an eye the Tigers rally had not only ended, but the game was lost 10-7.


"It's huge anytime you lose two back-to-back at home," Ochinko said. "We had a good run. We scored. We scored seven to comeback, but we didn't win and that is all that matters."


Schimpf and Ochinko led LSU at the plate with two hits a piece while Tiger pitching game up a blistering 14 hits on the day.



LSU 8 Lipscomb 4


Sunday's contest was exactly what Mainieri said he wanted to see. Fielders played mistake free baseball and batters where not only aggressive at the plate, but were making contact. The difference however for Mainieri was pitching.


Jared Bradford took the mound for his second start of the season, a move that Mainieri said he decided at 3 a.m. while trying to sleep. The junior transfer from Shelton State Community College in Hueytown, Ala. had a brilliant day, limiting Lipscomb to two runs on three hits in 7.1 innings.


"Pitching is the name of the game," Mainieri said. "Our starting pitcher went out there and played great. It was an awesome performance."


Bradford allowed only four base runners all day and only twice did a runner reach second base. He walked one and struck out 13 batters, representing the most Ks by an LSU pitcher since Kurt Ainsworth fanned 16 at Tennessee on April 2, 1999.


"Jared [Bradford] is such a versatile pitcher that you don't know what to do with him. He can start or he can close. He even makes a great set-up guy."


Mitchell also had an amazing day, hitting 4-of-4 while scoring three runs. Mitchell launched a home-run over the right-field wall. Michael Hollander followed going 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI.


"We played a lot better today, but it was two games too late," Jared Mitchell said. "I saw the ball a little better today. I wish this was everyday."


Jackson sparked the Tigers to an early lead when he led off the game with an opposite field homer over the right field wall. It was the second blast of his career and first since April 12, 2005 versus Northwestern State.


Mitchell and Dean followed up with a pair of singles, and Ochinko sent Mitchell home on a groundout to put the Tigers up 2-0.

The hits continued in the second on a Mitchell one-out single and an RBI single from Ochinko. Hollander then delivered the big blow when he crushed a solo shot off of the scoreboard in right field.

The Tigers bats were hot all day, and took a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh after Ochinko connected on an RBI sacrifice fly to centerfield. Bradford allowed his only walk with one out in the seventh, but Lipscomb then reached on an infield single, which ended Bradford's outing after 99 pitches.

"That was the longest I have gone in awhile after being a closer and now going back to starting," said Bradford. "I could definitely feel it."


With a 6-0 lead, LSU again struggled to put their opponent away late as Darryl Shaffer struggled in relief. Shaffer gave up three-straight hits to the Bison that placed four runs on the board for Lipscomb. Louis Coleman eventually entered in the ninth to secure the victory, closing the 8-4 victory for LSU while avoiding the series sweep.

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