Catcher Micah Gibbs ripped a walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift No. 15 LSU to a 16-15 win over No.18 Vanderbilt Friday night in Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (34-13, 12-10) erased a seven-run deficit after the fourth inning and took the lead in the eighth after Blake Dean drove home the go-ahead run to make the score 15-14. Vanderbilt (33-13, 10-10) tied the game in the ninth when second baseman Anthony Gomez belted a solo homer off closer Matty Ott.
Ott (2-2) struck out the side in the top of the 10th before Gibbs’ double scored Dean from first base to clinch the victory in the bottom of the frame. Russell Brewer (1-2) was charged with the loss for the Commodores after allowing the double to Gibbs.
“That was one of the greatest comebacks I’ve been associated with in my 28 years of coaching,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I can’t say enough about the courage and determination of our players in recovering from such a large deficit. It was a total team victory that was a testament to the heart of our players.”
The comeback marked LSU’s largest in an SEC game since April 26, 2008 when LSU defeated South Carolina, 11-10, after erasing a 9-2 deficit.
LSU exploded for 19 hits in Friday’s contest led by Gibbs, who went 4-for-5 with a game-tying homer in the eighth, two doubles and a career-high six RBI. Shortstop Austin Nola finished with three hits, including a two-run homer, while Dean, Tyler Hanover and Alex Edward each added three hits apiece.
Vanderbilt got out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first when third baseman Jason Esposito doubled to right field off Ranaudo, scoring Brian Harris and Anthony Gomez, who were both in scoring position.
The Commodores extended their lead to 3-0 in the second inning when Gomez slapped a line drive into right field, scoring right fielder Joe Loftus.
In the third inning, Vanderbilt increased its advantage to 6-0 after a two-out, two-run triple by Loftus, who would score on a single by the next batter, Mike Yastrzemski.
Ranaudo left the game after Loftus’ triple and gave way to junior right-hander Mitch Mormann, who then surrendered the single to Yastrzemski. Ranaudo went 2.2 innings, allowing six runs on five hits with four walks and a strikeout.
The Tigers got on the board in the bottom of the frame when Gibbs ripped a two-out, bases-loaded single through the left side scoring Dozar and Hanover to make the score 6-2. The next batter, Edward, laced a single through the right side, scoring Mikie Mahtook and cutting the LSU deficit to 6-3.
After Leon Landry reached first on an infield single, Gray walked Matt Gaudet with the bases loaded to make the score 6-4.
Vanderbilt responded with a five-run eruption in the fourth, highlighted by a three-run homer by Loftus off freshman reliever Chris Cotton. The homer was Loftus’ sixth of the season and extended the Commodores’ lead to 11-4.
LSU responded in the bottom of the fourth with a five-run inning of its own beginning when it cut the deficit to 11-6 after a two-run single by Dean scored Hanover and Mahtook. The next batter, Gibbs, lined a two-run double to the right-field corner to score Nola and Dean, making the score 11-8. Gaudet made the score 11-9 when he singled through the left side, scoring Gibbs from second.
In the fifth, Vanderbilt’s Curt Casali launched a three-run homer with two outs off reliever Daniel Bradshaw to increase the Commodore lead to 14-9.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the frame when Nola blasted a two-run homer to left to make the score 14-11. LSU made the score 14-12 when Edward reached second after an error by Harris at shortstop allowed Dean to score.
Paul Bertuccini pitched an outstanding three innings, allowing no runs on one hit with a pair of strikeouts.
LSU pulled within one when Gaudet reached on a fielder’s choice, plating Gibbs to make the score 14-13.
LSU tied the score at 14-14 in the seventh when Gibbs belted a solo homer to left. The RBI was Gibbs’ fifth of the game, which is a career-best for him. The homer was his sixth of the season.
In the eighth, Dean drove home the go-ahead run on an RBI single through the left side, scoring Hanover and making the score 15-14, the Tigers the first lead of the ball game.
Game 2 of the series will begin at 6 p.m., Saturday in Alex Box Stadium and will air on Comcast Sports South (Cox Channel 4 in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette).