Baseball Takes Game 3, Series From Arkansas, 4-2

Michael Hollander was 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI
Michael Hollander was 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- A strong performance by starting pitcher Ryan Verdugo  helped  LSU (14-7, 2-4 SEC) earn a 4-2 victory over Arkansas Sunday in Alex Box Stadium. The win gave the Tigers a 2-1 series victory over the Razorbacks and moved LSU into a tie for second place in the SEC Western Division, just one game behind Ole Miss.

Verdugo (4-1), a junior left-hander, worked seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits with five strikeouts.

Third baseman Michael Hollander led the way at the plate for the Tigers with three hits, a run and an RBI. Freshman DJ LeMahieu had two hits, one run and one RBI.

“Our kids did not hang their heads after yesterday’s loss,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “They came back and played a solid game today.”

Verdugo found himself in trouble in the first inning. He walked the first two batters of the game with both runners advancing on a Logan Forsythe sacrifice bunt. Casey Coon brought Chase Leavitt home on a sacrifice fly to give Arkansas a 1-0 lead.

Hollander reached on a single for LSU in the first, but he was left stranded.

Verdugo settled down in the second inning, retiring the Arkansas lineup in order. At the plate, LSU’s Matt Clark walked and advanced to second on a Derek Helenihi sacrifice bunt to open the second. He then moved to third on a wild pitch by Arkansas starter Dallas Keuchel. Leon Landry walked, and LeMahieu slapped a grounder up the middle that scored Helenihi to tie the game at 1-1. Ryan Schimpf then smashed a pitch to right field, but the ball was caught at the wall by Leavitt.

The Razorbacks (14-8, 2-4 SEC) got their first hit of the game in the fourth, when Aaron Murphree hit line drive through the left side of the infield.

Arkansas starter Dallas Keuchel (2-1) retired the Tigers in order in the bottom of the fourth. Ryan Cisterna notched the second hit of the day for the Razorbacks in the fifth, but Verdugo recorded two strikeouts while forcing Leavitt to ground out to end the inning.

The Tigers started a rally against Keuchel in the bottom of the fifth. LeMahieu knocked another grounder up the middle to open the inning. Schimpf, laying down a sacrifice bunt, was able to reach base on an error by Keuchel. Hollander then brought LeMahieu home on a bloop single to left field that advanced Schimpf to third.

Blake Dean reached on a fielder’s choice as Schimpf was tagged out trying to reach home. Hollander then scored when Matt Gaudet’s grounder was thrown over Andy Wilkins head at first, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.

Verdugo surrendered a walk and a hit to open the sixth inning. But, the Tigers turned a double play on a Wilkins grounder, and Verdugo struck out Murphree to end the threat.

Verdugo continued his dominance in the seventh, retiring the Razorbacks in order.

“I was nervous at first about Verdugo, because he was walking too many batters,” said Mainieri. “But, for the most part, he was able to get out of it. It was important that we got seven innings out of him because our pitching staff was pretty tired.”

Nolan Cain came on in relief of Verdugo in the eighth, walking Leavitt, who subsequently stole second. He walked Forsythe, and both runners advanced on a double steal. Leavitt scored when Coon grounded out to LeMahieu. Shane Ardoin entered the game from the bullpen, and he secured the final out of the inning.

Clark hit a double up the right field line in the eighth and was replaced by pinch runner Johnny Dishon on the base paths. Helenihi bunted Dishon to third. Sean Ochinko hit a  shallow fly ball to left, but that didn’t stop the speedy Dishon from tagging up and beating the throw to add some cushion to the Tigers lead.

Paul Bertuccini pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two and capturing his first save of the season.

Keuchel went the distance for the Razorbacks, giving up seven hits and striking out three.

The Tigers will play host Northwestern State on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.

LSU 4, Arkansas 2 (Mar 23, 2008 at Baton Rouge, La.)


Arkansas............ 100 000 010  -  2  3  3      (14-8, 2-4 SEC)
LSU.................... 010 020 01X  -  4  7  0      (14-7, 2-4 SEC)


Pitchers: Arkansas - Dallas Keuchel. LSU - Ryan Verdugo; Nolan Cain(8); Shane Ardoin(8); Paul Bertuccini(9).
Win-Ryan Verdugo(4-1)  Save-Paul Bertuccini(1)  Loss-Dallas Keuchel(2-1)  T-2:27  A-6970
Weather: 65 degrees, partly cloudy
Actual Attendance:  2,010



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