Something is in the water in Hoover. After decades of long ball futility at the SEC’s home venue, suddenly home runs are cheap and the run rule has been utilized more than a softball tournament. Saturday saw both of the SEC’s hottest hitting teams strike early and often to blow away their competition and get back to the hotel before the sun went down.
LSU immediately ended any hope that South Carolina, the tournament’s cinderella team, had with a lead off homer from Kramer Robertson and a 2 run bomb from Greg Deichmann in the 1st inning. The Tigers scored 2 more in the 2nd and then activated the run rule in the 3rd with 6 runs on back to back triples from Zach Watson and Robertson, followed by another home run from Deichmann. While the Tigers were bashing, Jared Poché had another #VintagePoche outing, giving up just 2 hits with only 2 Ks, but he kept the Gamecocks off the board. Even when Poché threw a high wild pitch that went to the backstop with a runner on 3rd, he still got to the plate in time to make the tag and prevent a score. Todd Peterson, fresh off suspension, closed out the final inning without incident. With the win, Poché got his 10th of the season and passed Lane Mestepey to move into No. 2 on LSU's all-time career wins list, just one behind Scott Schultz. Mainieri pointed out that if Poché is to get the record, there’s a chance it will come at the same moment LSU punches it’s ticket to Omaha.
In the second game, Arkansas’ Chad Spanberger continued his amazing run, notching home runs in the Hogs 5 run 1st inning and 3 run 2nd inning. Eric Cole and Dominic Fletcher also had home runs as Arkansas blew away SEC Co-champion Florida 16-0. Kacey Murphy got his 5th win of the season on the mound, pitching all 7 giving up only 2 hits with 8Ks. Florida’s Brady Singer, their #2 weekend pitcher, was chased in the 2nd after giving up 8 runs. Florida went the whole tournament without hitting a home run, which seems insane given how the ball has been flying all week.
And so we come to championship Sunday. Given how the last few days have gone, I’d expect a long game with a score from the 1990’s. LSU will send Sunday starter Eric Walker while Arkansas has yet to name a starter. I have no doubt both teams will try to pitch to the respective powerhouses of Deichmann and Spanberger. The difference will come from who can limit the damage from the rest of the lineups. LSU will have the advantage in the pitching staff, with the entire bullpen having rested while LSU has run-ruled the last couple of games.
Game starts at 2pm on ESPN2.