LSU Takes First Battle of Tigers, 6-4; Win 14th-Straight Game

LSU's DJ LeMahieu was 3-for-4 with two RBI
LSU's DJ LeMahieu was 3-for-4 with two RBI (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

AUBURN, Ala. -- Shortstop DJ LeMahieu provided two run-scoring doubles to pace No. 16 LSU’s 16-hit attack Thursday night, and left-hander Ryan Verdugo earned his eighth win in 10 decisions as the Tigers defeated Auburn, 6-4, at Plainsman Park.
LSU (37-16-1, 16-11-1 SEC) captured its 14th straight game, extending the nation’s longest current win streak. The 14-game streak is the longest by an LSU team since the 1997 club won 19 in a row to start the season. The Tigers have won 10 consecutive SEC games, LSU’s longest league streak since the 1991 squad won 11 straight conference outings.
Auburn fell to 28-26 overall and 11-17 in league play with Thursday’s loss.
LSU is in first place in the SEC Western Division, two games ahead of Alabama, which was idle Thursday after its game at Georgia was rained out. LSU would clinch the division title with a win in one of its final two games against Auburn.
Game 2 of the LSU-Auburn series is set for 6 p.m. Friday. Junior left-hander Blake Martin will take the mound for LSU against sophomore right-hander Taylor Thompson.
LSU, which trailed 1-0 through three innings, came from behind to win for the 22nd time this season.
“Our team continues to play with great confidence while getting clutch hits and making big pitches,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Tonight was another great ball game where we made some big plays at crucial times.”
Auburn took a 1-0 lead in the second against Verdugo as rightfielder Mike Bianucci and second baseman Joseph Sanders lined back-to-back doubles.
LSU, however, struck for two runs in the fourth against Auburn starter Grant Dayton as centerfielder Jared Mitchell doubled and scored on catcher Micah Gibbs’ single, and Gibbs scored on LeMahieu’s double.
The Tigers extended the lead to 4-1 in the sixth when leftfielder Blake Dean singled and scored on LeMahieu’s second double of the game, and designated hitter Matt Clark drove home LeMahieu with a single to right field.
Auburn rebounded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth when Sanders led off the frame with a homer off of Verdugo, and catcher Ryan Jenkins lined an RBI double against reliever Paul Bertuccini.
LSU added a run in the seventh to expand the lead to 5-3 on rightfielder Derek Helenihi’s RBI single, but Auburn narrowed the gap to 5-4 in the bottom of the inning on Sanders’ run-scoring single against reliever Jared Bradford.
Clark’s second run-scoring single of the night gave LSU a 6-4 lead in the eighth, and Bradford worked out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the frame by fanning Bianucci.
Bradford, who earned his fourth save of the season, allowed a two-out walk to third baseman David Cunningham in the ninth, but he retired first baseman Kevin Patterson on a grounder to second to end the game.
Verdugo (8-2) was credited with the victory, limiting Auburn to three runs on six hits in 5.2 innings with two walks and six strikeouts.
Dayton (7-2) was charged with the loss as he surrendered six runs on 13 hits in seven innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.
LSU 6, Auburn 4 (May 15, 2008 at Auburn, Ala.)
LSU.................... 000 202 110  -  6 16  1      (37-16-1, 16-11-1 SEC)
Auburn.............. 010 002 100  -  4 12  2      (28-26, 11-17 SEC)
Pitchers: LSU - Ryan Verdugo; Paul Bertuccini(6); Jared Bradford(7).
Auburn - Grant Dayton; Bryan Woodall(8).
Win-Ryan Verdugo(8-2)  Save-Jared Bradford(4)  Loss-Grant Dayton(7-2)  T-3:13  A-2067
HR AU - Joseph Sanders (6).
Dayton faced 1 batter in the 8th.




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