Once LSU was sent to the losers bracket, the pickings were going to be slim for a starting pitcher. Either Coach Mainieri could have thrown a reliever for short work or put in a midweek starter and hope for a long outing. Hunter Newman, who's season resume really only includes a good start against UNO (possibly the work team in D1), got the start and performed well above expectations against one of the top 20 teams in the nation. Newman went 4 innings complete with no hits and 3 Ks. Newman gave up a total of 4 walks and 2 hit batters, but was able to handle the pressure, and was only let down by his defense. In the 3rd inning, Newman surrendered a leadoff walk to Wise, then advanced him to 2nd with a wide pickoff throw to 1st. Arkansas bunted Wise to 3rd, then he scored when Mason Katz, playing 2B in place of JaCoby Jones this week, lost a pop fly in the sun.
That would be the only scoring of the game for Arkansas, as LSU was able to force the Hogs to strand 6 runners on base. Relief efforts came from Kevin Berry, Will LaMarche, Joey Bourgeois, and another dominant save effort from Chris Cotton, his 15th of the year. LSU actually held Arkansas hitless until the 6th, when LaMarche gave up a ground ball single into center by Tyler Spoon with his first pitch.
LSU's offensive woes of the week continued against Arkansas, stranding 6 runners through the first 5 innings. The Tigers were finally able to break through in the 6th with RBI single from Christian Ibarra and an RBI single from Tyler Moore. LSU was able to get another run in the 7th thanks to the baserunning efforts of Jared Foster. He got on with a single, then stole 2nd and took 3rd when Arkansas catcher Wise's throw went into center. Ibarra then brought him home with a double into the left center gap. The 2 insurance runs would be all that LSU needed to defeat Arkansas and advance to the SEC Championship.
LSU continues to be successful, despite an injury list that continues to grow. Mason Katz has been serviceable in JaCoby Jones absence, but he's had mistakes from time to time. Getting Jones' athleticism back on the right side of the infield will be crucial going forward. Mark Laird is the latest addition to the walking wounded after rolling his ankle in BP right before today's game, but Jared Foster and Andrew Stevenson proved to be an effective pair in the outfield. It remains to be seen how long Laird will be out, He's scheduled for an MRI when LSU returns to Baton Rouge Monday morning.
The SEC Championship awaits against Vanderbilt, the #1 team in the nation. Unfortunately for college baseball fans, both teams had to fight through the losers brackets to get here, and both teams have depleted their pitching staffs just to survive. LSU will be starting reliever Brent Bonvillain and Vandy hasn't announced a starter, but their star arms Kevin Ziomek and Tyler Beede won't be available either. Striking early and getting to the depleted bullpens is the goal for both squads. There is nothing on the line but honor and bragging rights, so it ought to be a fun game.
Score by Innings R H E ------------------------------------------- LSU................. 000 002 100 - 3 9 2 Arkansas............ 001 000 000 - 1 1 1 -------------------------------------------