“We keep putting ourselves in a position to where we have to test ourselves,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “We’re going to have to play with a lot more confidence and determination to get the job done tomorrow.”
Despite the loss, LSU starter Louis Coleman (8-2) had another outstanding performance, throwing 7.1 innings allowing only three earned runs and striking out a career-high 11 batters.
LSU performed well offensively, out-hitting Tennessee 13-11. The Tigers were led by designated hitter Blake Dean, who went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Mikie Mahtook, Ryan Schimpf and Sean Ochinko each collected two hits apiece for LSU.
The Tigers struck first in the third inning when Dean doubled off the wall in right, scoring Ryan Schimpf and putting the Tigers ahead 1-0. The next batter, Sean Ochinko singled to center to bring home Dean and make the score 2-0.
The Vols cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth when third baseman Tyler Horne tripled to right center, scoring first baseman Cody Hawn. Tennessee tied the score 2-2 when catcher Blake Forsythe ripped a single down the third baseline, scoring Horne.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the frame when Schimpf laced a two-out single up the middle to score Mahtook and increase the LSU lead to 3-2. The next batter, Dean, singled up the middle to score Leon Landry, who beat out a bunt earlier in the inning.
Tennessee came back with one of their own in the fifth to cut the deficit to 4-3, when P.J. Polk scored on an infield single by Hawn.
The Vols added another run in the sixth when Forsythe scored on a fielder’s choice hit by shortstop Zach Osborne, tying the score at 4-4.
LSU broke the tie in the bottom of the seventh and went up 5-4 when catcher Micah Gibbs hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to score Dean, who singled two batters earlier.
Tennessee took a 6-5 lead in the eighth against LSU reliever Matty Ott when Hawn reached first on an error by Schimpf with the bases loaded, scoring two runs.
Cody Grisham’s solo homer in the top of the ninth extended the Volunteer lead to 7-5.
The Tigers (28-11, 11-6) will go for their sixth straight conference series win this season when they host the Volunteers (18-22, 4-13) Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.
LSU has won nine straight league series since April of last season, tying Vanderbilt (2007-08) for the most consecutive SEC series victories in the current 30-game conference format implemented in 1994.