LSU Series Report

A weekend that was filled with so much promise certainly ended on a sour note for Vanderbilt. The Commodores took the opening game from LSU 9-4 in the first game of a double-header on Saturday (after a Friday rainout) behind Jensen Lewis, and had Twin Tower lefthanders Ryan Mullins and David Price lined up to pitch the final two games. The potential to take at least two of three from the Tigers was there, which would have lifted the Commodores over .500 in SEC play.

But Mullins was hit early and often on Saturday, and the Commodores offense was shut down on Sunday as LSU won the final two games of the series 9-3 and 3-0, leaving Vanderbilt at 10-11 in conference play and essentially in seventh place in the SEC standings.

Price, Jeff Sues and Ryan Rote all pitched well on Sunday, but the Commodores offense was held in check by crafty left-hander Greg Smith, who has thrown 25 straight scoreless innings for the Tigers.

"He's pretty good," Corbin said of Smith. "He pitched two good weekends in a row. I think the thing that was disappointing to me was there were no surprises. He was throwing a fastball up there and we couldn't do anything with it. We had 13 fly ball outs. Not what you look for, but you have to credit the pitcher."

Price surrendered a mammoth 2-run homer to Nick Stavinoha in the third inning, then saw another run pushed across in the fifth on a groundout by Stavinoha.

The Tigers had plenty of baserunners on the day, many put on by Vanderbilt. Commodore pitchers walked seven batters and hit three others. Another LSU runner reached on a passed ball on a strikeout, and another reached on an error. But Vanderbilt pitchers stranded 13 runners and left the bases loaded twice.

"(Their pitchers) are too good," said LSU coach Smoke Laval. "Our runners came because of walks and hit batsmen, like the first game (of the series). They are good. They have a good ballclub."

Corbin felt like his pitchers gave the Dores a chance to win on Sunday.

"We had some longer innings defensively," Corbin said. "We had some real quick innings offensively. When we pitch like that, you would think you were given a chance to win. Offensively, we just were a no-show today."

Corbin was impressed with the LSU lineup, which leads the SEC in home runs.

"Just in terms of sitting back and pounding the baseball, I would have to say (they have the best lineup in the SEC)," Corbin said. "To me, it looks like nine guys who could be my brother, who is 40 years old, at least from a maturation standpoint. They are big, strong clubbers. You have to make good pitches or they will wear your ass out. They are pretty good. You really have to pitch well to those guys. Holding them to three runs is a pretty good performance."

Vanderbilt threatened in the first inning with two men on and in the second, when Dominic de la Osa led off with a double. But after that, Smith let his fielders do the work.

Second baseman Warner Jones had a tough series at the plate, going 2-for-14 while hitting into a double-play.

In the series opener, the Commodores took advantage of struggling LSU pitcher Lane Mestepey and posted a 9-4 victory. The Commodores 4-5-6 hitters Mike Baxter, Brian Hernandez and de la Osa scored all nine runs and combined for five hits and five RBIs. De la Osa was 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored while making some solid plays in the field.

Jensen Lewis was solid in 6.1 innings of work, striking out seven while giving up four runs (three earned). Stephen Shao shut the Tigers down in the final 2.2 to record his second save, and the Dores nudged over .500 in SEC play at 10-9.

With Mullins scheduled for Game 2, the Dores appeared to be in great shape. But Mullins struggled after two stellar outings and was knocked out in the third inning, trailing 4-0. Mullins gave up four runs, five hits, a walk and had a hit batsman in 2.1 innings, which tied the shortest start of his career.

"Jensen was good," Corbin said. "Ryan was disappointing. He wasn't ready to pitch in my opinion. You get some momentum in the first (game), you want to take it into the second. He walked the first guy, gave up a big hit down the line and three runs later, you are looking down the barrel of a gun.

The Commodores cut the LSU lead to 4-2 in the third inning. Alex Feinberg singled home Antuan Richardson, and Jones knocked Rucker Taylor in with a ground ball. Feinberg was 3-for-4 on the day with a walk.

LSU added an unearned run, then puy the game away with a two-out, two-run single in the seventh by Clay Harris. That gave LSU a 7-2 lead and an eventual 9-3 win.

The top eight teams in the SEC qualify for the SEC Tournament, and the Commodores have a tenuous hold on seventh at the moment. Vanderbilt does play Georgia and Kentucky in its next two series, the two teams with the worst records in the league.

"Every team feels more pressure as the season gets deeper," Corbin said. "There is a game that separates everyone. And when you talk about games, you talk about plays and swings and pitches that separate the winners from the losers. It is tough. You can't make mistakes. It is going to be tight. Really tight. We have our work cut out for us."


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