BATON ROUGE -- Indiana catcher Josh Phegley’s sacrifice fly drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning Sunday as the Hoosiers (1-2) defeated the Tigers (2-1) in the series finale, 7-6.
A beautiful afternoon drew a paid attendance of 7,440 for Game 3 of the series at Alex Box Stadium.
Hoosiers left-hander Kyle Leinedecker (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings in relief and shutdown the Tiger bats in the bottom of the ninth to grab the victory. Freshman reliever Austin Loss (0-1) was tabbed with the loss, despite a solid effort in which he allowed only one run in three innings.
“I think a lot of credit should go to Indiana today,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said after the game. “Those kids are tough kids and played us tough the whole weekend.
“Their bullpen did a great job today, their hitters were very scrappy and they came through in the clutch more so than we did.”
LSU starter Ryan Byrd surrendered two singles to lead off the game. However, with runners on first and third base, the lefty induced a 6-4-3 double play for the first two outs. Indiana leadoff hitter Andrew Means did score on the play, but the twin killing prevented a potential big inning for the Hoosiers. Cleanup hitter Kipp Schutz grounded out to second baseman Derek Helenihi for the third out.
The Tigers provided plenty of fireworks in the bottom of the first inning. After a leadoff walk to D.J. LeMahieu and a single by Helenihi, left fielder Blake Dean took a 1-0 offering from Hoosiers left-hander Jarrett Casey and blasted it over the right field wall to put the Tigers up 3-1. Dean’s dinger was the first home run of the season for any Tiger.
Sean Ochinko, who moved from catcher to first for today’s game, followed up Dean’s homer with a single through the infield, and right fielder Nicholas Pontiff knocked a base hit over the outstretched glove of shortstop Evan Crawford. Then, Casey threw a wild pitch into the dirt, and Ochinko scored all the way from second base.
The Tigers took the lead, 4-1 and chased Casey from the game.
The second and third innings featured a glimpse of the future for the Tigers. In the top of the second inning, the true freshman shortstop LeMahieu made two impressive back-handed snatches and threw a pair of darts to first base for two outs. In addition, freshman outfielder Chad Jones, who returned punts and saw time at safety for the national champion LSU football team, collected his first career base hit in the bottom of the third and subsequently stole second base.
The Hoosiers struck back in the top of the fourth to record their second run. Crawford singled to left center field and stole second base shortly thereafter. Crawford took third base after a deep fly out from Schutz, and first baseman Jerrud Sabourin drove him in to cut the lead to 4-2.
The Tigers gained another run in the fifth inning to add to their lead, 5-2. Leon Landry, pinch hitting for designated hitter Matt Gaudet, singled, and Jared Mitchell, coming in for Pontiff, legged out a double advancing Landry to third. After a fly out by Jones, freshman catcher Micah Gibbs grounded out to shortstop but knocked Landry in from third.
Byrd showed signs of fatigue in the top of the sixth, and Indiana capitalized in a big way. The lefty allowed four consecutive batters to reach base, including a bases loaded double to Chris Hervey to plate two runs. Then, a sacrifice fly by Sabourin scored Josh Phegley and advanced Hervey to third base.
Right-hander Paul Bertuccini relieved Byrd. The next batter, Michael Earley ,plated Hervey with a ground out to shortstop, and Indiana retook the lead, 6-5. Bertuccini stopped the rally, but the Hoosiers recorded four runs in the inning.
It wouldn’t take long for the Tigers to tie it back up. In the bottom of the sixth, LeMahieu led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Helenihi came up next and ripped a single to center field, scoring LeMahieu to tie the game at 6-6.
After scoreless seventh and eighth innings, the Hoosiers would notch the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth to take the win. Means got the inning started with an infield single off Ross and advanced to second on a throwing error by LeMahieu. After a sacrifice bunt by Crawford advanced Means to third base, Phegley hit a long fly ball to left field, and Means tagged up to give the Hoosiers a 7-6 lead.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Ochinko nailed a double off Leiendecker over Means’ head in center to put the Tigers in scoring position, but Leiendecker struck out Landry to end the game.
“We’ve got to hit in clutch situations, and we just left way too many runners in scoring position,” Mainieri said. “When we’ve got the other team on the ropes, and the crowd is into the game, I need somebody to get up there and really take a good swing at that time, and we didn’t get a lot of that this weekend.”
The Tigers return to action Tuesday night to face the Southern Jaguars in Alex Box Stadium. First pitch will be 6:37 p.m. The game will be telecast live on CST (cable channel 37 locally) and it can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network (WDGL 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge). Live video and audio of the contest will be available in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net.
Junior southpaw Ryan Verdugo will start Tuesday’s game on the mound for the Tigers.
Indiana 7, LSU 6 (Feb 24, 2008 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Indiana............. 100 104 001 - 7 14 1 (1-2)
LSU.................. 400 011 000 - 6 13 1 (2-1)
Pitchers: Indiana - Casey, Jarrett; Fleenor, Doug(1); Leiendecker, Kyle(7). LSU - Ryan Byrd;
Paul Bertuccini(6); Austin Ross(7).
Win-Leiendecker, Kyle(1-0) Loss-Austin Ross(0-1) T-3:04 A-7440
HR LSU - Blake Dean (1).
Weather: 65 degrees and ptly cldy.
Actual attendance: 3,497