BATON ROUGE - The Tigers erased a 5-1 deficit with seven runs in the seventh inning, highlighted by a two-run single by first baseman Blake Dean, as No. 3 LSU defeated No. 13 Arkansas, 8-7, Saturday afternoon in Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (15-3, 1-1) will seek a series victory over Arkansas (13-4, 1-1) in the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium. The game will be televised on Cox Sports Television (Cox cable channel 37 in Baton Rouge).
Sunday's pitching matchup will feature LSU sophomore left-hander Chris Matulis (2-0, 1.38 ERA) against Arkansas junior right-hander Brett Eibner (2-1, 1.23 ERA).
"I'm proud of the way we fought back and held on for the win," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "The big rally in the seventh featured a big hit by Blake Dean, and we had several very disciplined at-bats. I also thought our fans played a huge role in the win; they stayed behind us and I think it inspired our players."
Heading into the seventh inning, the Tigers had notched only two hits in the game, both of them singles by catcher Micah Gibbs. The seventh-inning eruption was marked by seven runs on five hits with RBIs by Trey Watkins, Tyler Hanover, Dean and Leon Landry.
Gibbs was the leading hitter for the Tigers Saturday, as he went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Dean also led the LSU offensive with a pair of hits, a run and two RBI.
In the first inning, LSU took a 1-0 lead on an RBI-single by Gibbs following a pair of walks to Hanover and Dean issued by Arkansas starter Drew Smyly, who made his first-career appearance against the Tigers Saturday.
After a single and a walk to start the third inning, Arkansas right fielder Jarrod McKinney sacrificed bunted the runners into scoring position and left fielder Collin Kuhn followed with a two-run double over Watkins' head in left to give Arkansas a 2-1 lead.
Razorback catcher Monk Kreder delivered another two-run double for Arkansas in the inning, scoring Kuhn and third baseman Zack Cox to extend the Razorbacks' lead to 4-1.
Smyly held the Tigers hitless from Gibbs' RBI single in the first through the fifth inning before Gibbs ripped another single off the lefty in the sixth. Smyly pitched six innings and allowed one run on two hits with five strikeouts.
The Razorbacks extended their lead to 5-1 in the top of the seventh when Cox blasted a solo homer off LSU reliever Daniel Bradshaw, who entered the game in relief of Bourgeois to start the seventh frame.
Bradshaw (4-0) earned the victory for LSU after allowing one run and two hits in his only inning of work.
LSU came alive in the seventh when Matt Gaudet and Austin Nola led off the inning with back-to-back singles before Razorback reliever Jeremy Heatley hit third baseman Wet Delatte. The Arkansas right-hander then surrendered an RBI-single to Watkins with the bases loaded, scoring Gaudet and cutting the deficit to 5-2 with no outs.
The Razorbacks then turned to left-hander Geoffrey Davenport with the bases loaded to face Tyler Hanover. Davenport then worked to a full count before walking Hanover, making the score 5-3 in favor of Arkansas.
The next batter, Dean, ripped a two-run single through the right side, scoring Delatte and Watkins, knotting the score at 5-5. After Davenport issued back-to-back walks to Gibbs and Mahtook, the Tigers had regained the lead at 6-5 before Landry hit a deep sacrifice fly to center scoring Dean from third and extending the Tigers' lead to 7-5.
A wild pitch by new Arkansas reliever Jordan Pratt allowed Gibbs to scamper home from third, giving the Tigers an 8-5 advantage.
Davenport (2-2) was charged with the loss after allowing three runs on one hit with three walks in 0.1 innings.
The Razorbacks responded in the eighth when Kuhn launched a two-run homer to left off LSU right-hander Matty Ott to pull within one run at 8-7. However, Ott shut Arkansas down in the ninth and earned his seventh save of the season, as he allowed two hits and struck out four in two innings of work.
LSU 8, Arkansas 7 (Mar 20, 2010 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Arkansas............ 004 000 120 - 7 9 0 (13-4, 1-1 SEC)
LSU.................... 100 000 70X - 8 8 0 (15-3, 1-1 SEC)
Pitchers: Arkansas - Drew Smyly; Jeremy Heatley(7); Geoffrey Davenport(7); Jordan Pratt(7);
DJ Baxendale(8) and Monk Kreder. LSU - Joey Bourgeois; Daniel Bradshaw(7); Matty Ott(8) and
Win-Daniel Bradshaw(4-0) Save-Matty Ott(7) Loss-Geoffrey Davenport(2-2) T-3:04 A-10944
HR AR - Collin Kuhn (3); Zack Cox (3).
Actual Attendance: 6877
J Heatley faced 4 batters in the 7th.