After all the ridiculous output in Hoover over the past week, it figures that the championship game would be a low scoring affair where LSU leaned on it’s well rested pitching staff for a 4-2 victory over Arkansas.
Eric Walker had himself a day on the mound, allowing just 1 run on an Eric Cole solo homer in the 3rd, going 7.2 IP and striking out 8. After that home run, LSU responded in the 4th inning. Thanks to a couple singles and an error, LSU had the bases loaded with 1 out for Greg Deichmann. Arkansas changed pitchers, struck out Deichmann, changed pitchers again, gave up a walk and a run to Nick Coomes, changed pitchers AGAIN, and gave up an RBI single to Josh Smith and a sac fly RBI to Beau Jordan. Later in the 6th inning, Duplantis would score from 2nd on a Nick Coomes sac fly to center that almost resulted in a triple play if not for Duplantis’ excellent slide at the plate.
When Walker was pulled in the 8th Nick Bush came out first and gave up a double and was pulled immediately for Zack Hess, who finished the inning with no damage. There was some thought that maybe Hess would finish the game, but LSU closer Hunter Newman came out for the 9th in a high pressure situation and once again set everything on fire before putting out his own mess. After a popup, Arkansas got 2 on with a walk and a HBP. After another popup, Eric Cole struck again for an RBI single up the middle. With two on and two out, the devil of the Razorback lineup, the big boppin Chad Spanberger came up to the plate. Spanberger had no hits on the day, but he had struck out once and walked once. Faced with allowing Spanberger to hit a game winning walk-off home run — which would have been his sixth of the tournament and ninth in the last seven Arkansas games — Paul Mainieri walked out to the mound and told Newman to intentionally walk him. In the postgame, Mainieri said that it was the first time he could remember in his 35 years of coaching baseball that he had ever decided to just put the game-winning run on base instead of pitching to him.
The gamble paid off. Luke Bonfield grounded to Kramer Robertson at SS, who flipped it to Smith at 3B for the final out, sealing the win and the Championship. It marked LSU’s 12th tournament championship, expanding on their record for the most of any team in the SEC. It was also Paul Mainieri’s sixth SEC Tournament Championship, which added to his perfect 6-0 record in the SEC Tournament Championship game. It is the fifth time LSU has double up on SEC Championships in the same season, and in 1993 and 2009, that lead to some pretty special finishes. The win capped off an amazingly dominant week for LSU and has all but certainly secured the Tiger’s 6th National Seed selection in a row.
As it was announced on Sunday night, we know for a fact LSU will be hosting a regional, it’s 25th all-time and the 8th under Mainieri.
2017 SEC Baseball All-Tournament Team
P: Alex Lange, LSU
P: Kacey Murphy, Arkansas
C: Blake Logan, Auburn
DH: Luke Bonfield, Arkansas
1B: Chad Spanberger, Arkansas
2B: Cole Freeman, LSU
3B: Jonah Bride, South Carolina
SS: Kramer Robertson, LSU
OF: Greg Deichmann, LSU
OF: Antoine Duplantis, LSU
OF: Carlos Cortes, South Carolina
Most Valuable Player: Chad Spanberger, Arkansas