LSU takes game one

Leftfielder Jared Mitchell's two-out, two-run double Friday night highlighted a four-run LSU ninth inning as the second-ranked Tigers overcame a 5-2, eighth-inning deficit and defeated No. 29 Alabama, 8-5, at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

LSU improved to 25-8 overall and 9-4 in the SEC with the comeback win. The Tigers are one game behind Arkansas (10-3) in the league standings. Vanderbilt blanked the Razorbacks, 9-0, Friday night in Fayetteville, Ark.

 

Alabama, which saw its five-game win streak end Friday, fell to 21-11 overall, 6-7 in conference play.

 

“I thought it was a great effort by our players against an outstanding Alabama club,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It seemed like everyone on our team made a contribution to this win. I can’t say enough about the way our guys responded when Alabama had their big inning. We found a way to get it done, and I’m very proud of our kids.

 

“At the same time, we’ve got to come back here (Saturday) and continue to play at our best against an outstanding team.”

 

The Tigers trailed 5-2 in the top of the eighth when centerfielder Leon Landry singled and scored as Tide centerfielder Alex Kubal allowed the ball to get past him for a three-base error.

 

Alabama starting pitcher Austin Hyatt retired the next tow LSU batters before Mitchell and second baseman Ryan Schimpf delivered back-to-back singles. Adam Morgan relieved Hyatt on the mound before Mitchell scored on an infield single by designated hitter Blake Dean to close the gap to 5-4.

 

Alabama reliever Nathan Kilcrease retired first baseman Sean Ochinko on a grounder to short to end the LSU eighth.

 

LSU reliever Nolan Cain blanked the Tide in the bottom of the eighth, setting the stage for the Tigers’ four-run ninth inning.

 

Catcher Micah Gibbs led off with a double, but Kilcrease retired shortstop DJ LeMahieu on a groundout before striking out Landry. Kilcrease had two strikes on rightfielder Mikie Mahtook, but Mahtook hit a chopper that shortstop Josh Rutledge misplayed, allowing Gibbs to score the tying run.

 

Kilcrease walked third baseman Tyler Hanover before Mitchell ripped a two-run double to left-center field, giving the Tigers a 7-5 lead. Schimpf followed  with a single to center to score Mitchell for an 8-5 advantage.

 

LSU freshman right-hander Matty Ott struck out second baseman Ross Wilson to start the Bama ninth before rightfielder Kent Matthes lined an RBI double. Ott, however, retired first baseman Wes Henderson on a groundout and third baseman Jake Smith on a fly ball to center to end the game.

 

Ott picked up his seventh save of the season, preserving the win for Cain, who improved to 3-0 on the year. Cain worked a scoreless eighth inning for the Tigers, allowing one hit with one strikeout.

 

Kilcrease (1-2) was charged with the loss, as he surrendered four unearned runs on three hits in 1.1 innings with one walk and one strikeout.

 

LSU opened the scoring in the top of the third when Mahtook singled, stole second base, moved to third on a throwing error by catcher Vin DiFazio and scored on Hanover’s sacrifice fly.

 

The Tigers extended the lead to 2-0 in the sixth on a solo homer by Schimpf, his eighth dinger of the season.

 

Alabama narrowed the deficit to 2-1 in the sixth against LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo on a RBI groundout by designated hitter Clay Jones.

 

The Crimson Tide erupted for four runs in the seventh to take a 5-2 lead. The uprising was highlighted by first baseman Brandon May’s three-run homer off of LSU reliever Paul Bertuccini.

 

Ranaudo worked 6.1 innings for the Tigers, allowing two runs on eight hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Hyatt delivered an excellent starting outing for Alabama, allowing four runs – three earned – on seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts.

 

The teams meet in Game 2 of the series at 6 p.m. CT Saturday.


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