Vanderbilt Edges LSU to Win Series, 4-3
BATON ROUGE -- No. 18 Vanderbilt scored two runs in the eighth, breaking a 2-2 tie and held off an LSU rally in the ninth to beat the 15th-ranked Tigers, 4-3, and clinch the weekend series Sunday afternoon in Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (34-15, 12-12) will be back in action Friday when they travel to Lexington, Ky., to take on the Kentucky Wildcats in a three-game series. Vanderbilt advanced to 35-13 overall and 12-10 in conference play.
Vanderbilt starter Jack Armstrong (6-1) earned the victory after allowing only two runs on six hits in 7.2 innings of work.
"This was a very difficult loss because I know how hard our kids played and how disappointed they are," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "Baseball is often a game of inches, and there were several plays that could have gone in our favor, but we fell short. There are still six conference games left in the season, and we have a lot of challenges ahead. Our players have a very important week coming up with final exams, and then we'll get ready to take on Kentucky next weekend."
Vanderbilt got out to a very early 1-0 lead in the first when shortstop Brian Harris led off the game with a solo homer off LSU starter Austin Ross. The homer was Harris' fourth of the season.
In the third, Harris drove in a run with a single to center field to break the tie and give Vanderbilt a 2-1 lead.
Once again, LSU responded with an RBI single by Edward to knot the score at 2-2.
Ross left the game in the sixth inning after allowing only two runs on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Zach LaSuzzo came in and forced a fielder's choice to get the second out, and Paul Bertuccini closed out the inning with a strikeout of Curt Casali to preserve the tie with a runner on third.
In the eighth, Vanderbilt snapped the 2-2 tie and went up 4-2 when Joe Loftus ripped a two-out, two-run single to center off reliever Matty Ott.
The Tigers rallied in the bottom of the ninth, plating a run on an RBI single by Tyler Hanover to pull within one at 4-3.
Vanderbilt reliever Sonny Gray struck out Mikie Mahtook and forced Austin Nola to ground out to end the game with the tying run on second base to end the LSU threat and earn his first save of the season.
Ott (2-3) was charged with the loss after throwing 2.1 innings and allowing two runs on one hit with two walks and a strikeout.