“This is why you come to LSU, to play for championships,” said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. “Every weekend beginning with this weekend we’re playing for championships. We succeeded in getting one, now we’re going to go after the tournament championship.”
The visiting Tigers (38-16-1, 17-11-1 SEC) found themselves down early once again, thanks largely to the efforts of Auburn freshman Brian Fletcher.
Fletcher teed off on LSU starting pitcher Blake Martin with five RBIs on two home runs, boosting Auburn to a 5-2 lead after just two innings. Martin allowed five runs on four hits and, although he averages five innings per appearance, was removed after the second inning.
A Herculean effort by LSU reliever Ryan Byrd (2-1) set the stage for the rally. Byrd pitched six innings of shutout relief, allowing just two hits and striking out five batters in picking up the win.
With the defense secure, the Tigers’ offense exploded with four multi-hit innings. Things began in the fourth inning, when a two-RBI double from LSU third baseman Michael Hollander and a two-RBI single from center fielder Jared Mitchell gave the Tigers a 6-5 advantage.
The runs kept coming in the fifth inning when a right field single by Ryan Schimpf drove home Matt Clark and DJ LeMahieu for the 8-5 lead.
Centerfielder Leon Landry started the seventh inning in explosive fashion as he sent the second of three LSU home runs over the right field wall. Auburn errors then loaded the bases for LSU, as Jared Mitchell reached all the way to third on a fielding error, and Auburn reliever Evan Crawford walked Blake Dean and Micah Gibbs. With three men on base, a Derek Helenihi single scored Mitchell and Dean for a solid 11-5 lead.
Auburn errors once again paved the way for multiple LSU runs in the eighth inning.
With LeMahieu and Hollander on base, Mitchell reached third for the second time on a fielder’s error, increasing the lead to 13-5. Dean then added LSU’s final home run, sending the ball screaming over the right field wall and scoring Mitchell for a 15-5 score line.
“I’m so proud of our players for winning a championship with great effort and determination,” said Mainieri. “We were picked to finish fifth in the West at the beginning of the season, and we got off to a rough start, but our players persevered and have been outstanding over the past month. There is still much left to accomplish, and I’m very excited about what’s ahead for our team.”
- The victory extended LSU’s nation-leading win streak to 15 and sealed their fourth consecutive SEC series win.
- LSU out hit Auburn 18 to 7 to win a fifth consecutive series at Plainsman Park.
- Matt Clark logged LSU’s first home run and his 19th of the season, hitting a solo shot to right field in the second inning to tie the score at 2-2.
- All nine of LSU’s starters recorded hits in the game.
- The regular season concludes today at 2 p.m.
- LSU has secured the second seed in the SEC tournament and will face the seventh seed at 10 a.m. Wednesday.