BATON ROUGE - LSU first baseman Blake Dean went 3-for-3, including a game-winning two-run home run in the seventh inning to power the top-ranked Tigers past the Kansas Jayhawks, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon in Alex Box Stadium.
With the win, the Tigers (13-1) even up the series at one game apiece and will face Kansas (10-4) in the rubber-match Sunday at 1 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.
Dean is now 7-for-8 in the series after going 3-for-4 in last night's matchup. LSU's offense was also paced by right fielder Mikie Mahtook, who went 3-for-4 and scored a run, and left fielder Trey Watkins, who went 1-for-2 and reached base four times.
"The best way to describe Blake Dean is that he performs like a professional hitter," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "He never panics, he's always in control, and he came through in a big way for us today."
LSU reliever Paul Bertuccini (1-0) got credit for the win after relieving starter Austin Ross in the seventh inning with the score tied 2-2. Ross gave a strong showing, allowed only two runs on five hits in 6.1 innings. Jayhawks pitcher Brett Bollman (1-2) received the loss allowing three runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings of work.
Kansas took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when catcher Chris Manship singled up the middle, scoring Casey Lytle who singled earlier in the inning. Following a walk to first baseman Brett Lisher, James Stanfield lifted a sacrifice fly to left to give the Jayhawks a 2-0 advantage.
The Tigers tied the game in the bottom half of the fifth inning. Mikie Mahtook and Wet Delatte led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Following a pair of strikeouts, shortstop Austin Nola drilled an infield single off the glove of the shortstop to load the bases with two outs. Dean followed with a two-run RBI single over the head of first baseman Brett Lisher, scoring Mahtook and Delatte to tie the game, 2-2.
Bertuccini entered the game in relief of Ross in the top of the seventh with one out and a runner on second. After a walk, Bertuccini forced Robby Price into an inning-ending double play to end the Kansas scoring threat.
LSU took the lead in the seventh inning. With one out, Trey Watkins was hit by a pitch by Bollman. After a strikeout, Bollman gave way to reliever Wally Marciel with two outs and one on in the inning and Dean at the plate. With the count at 3-1, Dean blasted a two-run homerun into the right field bleachers to give the Tigers a 4-2 advantage.
Sophomore closer Matty Ott struck out the final four batters of the game to earn his sixth save of the season.
"This has been a tough, hard-fought series, and I would expect that same type of game tomorrow," Mainieri said.
LSU 4, Kansas 2 (Mar 13, 2010 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Kansas.............. 200 000 000 - 2 7 1 (10-4)
LSU.................. 000 020 20X - 4 10 0 (13-1)
Pitchers: Kansas - Bollman, Brett; Marciel, Wally(7); Murray, Colton(7) and Manship, Chris;
LSU - Austin Ross; Paul Bertuccini(7); Daniel Bradshaw(8); Matty Ott(8) and
Win-Paul Bertuccini(1-0) Save-Matty Ott(6) Loss-Bollman, Brett(1-2) T-2:46 A-10667
HR LSU - Blake Dean (4).
Weather: 67 degrees, sunny
Actual Attendance: 6419
Marciel, W. faced 2 batters in the 7th.