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LSU Sweeps With Another 7-6 Win

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LSU relied heavily on its much-criticized bullpen to come up with a win on Saturday.  With Austin Ross having pitched mid-week, it wasn't even a guarantee that he would go on Sunday at all.  He started, but Manieri had a quick hook for Ross, taking him out when Auburn had runners at the corners and one out in the 5th inning.  Bertuccini and Bradshaw combined to get out of the inning giving up runs to the runners already on base, and held Auburn scoreless in the next two frames to give LSU's offense a chance to put up some runs.

In its half of the 5th, LSU finally put up a big inning, as Tyler Hanover had the big blast with runners on 2nd and 3rd to give LSU the lead for good at 5-4.  Mikie Mahtook and Micah Gibbs would string hits together later in the inning to expand the lead to 6-4.  LSU would add one more in the 6th inning and the teams would trade scoreless frames in the 7th, setting up a dramatic 8th inning for LSU's pitchers.

With Daniel Bradshaw working into his 4th inning, he was unable to get the first two batters out for the Auburn Tigers, hitting the Tiger leadoff batter and walking the second batter, bringing up the meat of the Tiger order.

It was at this point that Manieri made his masterful move of the series, putting LSU outfielder/safety/punt returner Chad Jones in to pitch to Auburn's best hitters.  My immediate thoughts were a) this is insane and b) at least they don't have a scouting report on him, and if they do it says things like, "good in space" and "quick on the blitz."  If they're lucky it might have said something like, "Struggles to hit left-handed pitching."  But how does he do against left-handed hitting?

Pretty darn good, thank you very much.  Our starting free safety gave up a base hit to the first Tiger hitter, then struck out the cleanup hitter and the #5 hitter.  He threw a fastball in the 90s and came back with a wicked slider to get the outs.  As the LSU announcers said in bewildered disbelief as Jones pitched the Tigers 2/3 of the way out of a bad jam with the tying runs on base, "Do you know how many left-handed pitchers LSU has that throw in the 90s?  They're all standing on the mound right now."  

When the stretch of 3 straight lefties was over, Jones was pulled in favor of Matty Ott, who promptly gave up a 2-run single that cut LSU's lead to 7-6.  He got the next batter out, and LSU went quietly in its half of the 8th, setting up a final inning attempt by Auburn to get back into it.

Matty Ott walked the first Auburn batter of the inning.  Then, Auburn's head coach made the same stupid mistake that Paul Manieri made at the end of the Saturday game by asking his next batter to bunt the runner over to second, giving up a valuable out when he absolutely needed a run to extend the game.  Auburn had the tying run in scoring position, but after Ott hit the next Auburn hitter to give Auburn runners on first and second, Ott induced a ground ball that Lemahieu and Nola converted into a game-ending double play.

In the end, only two of the 6 runs against were credited against the bullpen.

Offensively, LSU got really nice games from Jared Mitchell (3 for 5 with a double, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored), DJ Lemahieu (2 for 4 and an RBI), Mikie Mahtook (2 for 4 with 2 runs scored), and Tyler Hanover (3-run homerun).