Back to square one

The Alabama bats came alive Saturday night, giving the home team the 13-5 win to even the weekend series. Winners of eight conference series in a row, the Tigers will send Louis Coleman to the mound on Sunday as they look to land the game three victory.

The first five frames of Saturday's game two had the heavyweight fight feeling that LSU head coach Paul Mainieri expected of his trip to Tuscaloosa.

What happened from the sixth inning on, however, was not so much a part of the plan.

Tiger starter Austin Ross had been working the Tide batters through four innings, surrendering only a solo homerun to Wes Henderson in the third.

Three walks and a balk in the fifth, however, put Ross and the Tigers behind the eight ball. Alabama recorded two runs on just one hit in the frame, taking the lead back at 3-2.

"They took advantage of some walks and got several timely base hits," Mainieri said.

Ryan Byrd stepped in for Ross to start the sixth, ending the Shreveport native's night with six hits and three earned runs over five innings of work.

In a week where the Tiger skipper said that answers would be found to the Tigers middle relief problems, Saturday's game two showed little sign of resolve.

"I need to find somebody to bridge the gap to the closer spot and Matt Ott, and right now I don't know who that is," Mainieri said.

There was no Ott on Saturday, and Byrd's appearance did little towards working to a solution as he allowed five earned runs on three hits. He recorded just two outs before Mainieri called for Ben Alsup to close the frame.

The sophomore right hander, who was near perfect in Wednesday's start against Grambling State, allowed three runs on a pair of hits before he recorded the inning's final out, pushing the Tide out to a 9-2 lead.

Both teams recorded runs in the seventh and eighth to end the scoring at 13-5.

Blake Dean's four RBI on two hits was the lone bright spot for the Tigers. The junior's performance was perhaps his best road showing of the season, good news for Tiger fans given his sluggish .263 average on the season.

Brandon May countered at the plate for the Tide, going 4-for-4 with 4 RBI. The junior designated hitter upped his average to .324 on the year, keeping him among the league's hottest batters.

"Alabama has a great offensive club, and they showed why they lead the league in hitting," said Mainieri.

Del Howell (4-1) got the win for the Tide, allowing five earned runs on ten hits over seven innings of work.

Though the Tigers face a decisive game three on Sunday, the road should be a bit easier behind the arm of the staff's ace.

If Coleman can quiet the Alabama bats, Mainieri and his gang will make it nine conference series wins in a row.

"We knew this would be a very challenging series, so I know our players will be ready," he said.

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