LSU's Austin Ross
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Slam Lifts Kentucky to Baseball Sweep
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Published: May 16, 2010, 03:18 PM (CT)
Updated: May 17, 2010, 04:16 PM (CT)
by Bill Franques, Sr. Associate SID

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Catcher Marcus Nidiffer's grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday lifted Kentucky to a 6-4 win over No. 20 LSU at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Wildcats improved to 29-23 overall, 12-15 in SEC play. LSU is 34-18 overall and 12-15 in league games. LSU returns to action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when the Tigers play at Tulane.

The Tigers concluded the regular season by playing host to Mississippi State in a three-game series beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday. LSU is battling for a berth in the eight-team SEC Tournament, which begins May 26 in Hoover, Ala.

LSU held a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth when Kentucky staged a rally. Second baseman Chris Bisson reached on an error by LSU pitcher Austin Ross before Ross walked rightfielder Chad Wright.

Paul Bertuccini relieved Ross on the mound before UK third baseman Gunner Glad sacrificed the runners to second and third. Zach LaSuzzo was called upon to face Kentucky first baseman Lance Ray, but LaSuzzo hit Ray with his first pitch to load the bases.

LSU closer Matty Ott entered the game to try and end the threat, but Nidiffer hit a 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall to give UK the lead.

Kentucky reliever Logan Darnell (5-3) retired the Tigers in order in the ninth inning to end the game. LaSuzzo (0-1) was charged with the loss after throwing the pitch that hit Ray.

Ross turned in an outstanding effor for the Tigers, working seven innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits with two walks and a career-high 10 strikeouts.

LSU was plagued by missed opportunities as the Tigers left 16 runners on base, including nine in scoring position.

"It's frustrating because we had chances that we couldn't capitalize on," sald LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "We've got no choice but to keep working hard and doing everything we can to earn a postseason bid. We're disappointed, certainly, but we still have a chance to accomplish our goals."

The Tigers scored two runs in the top of the first against Kentucky starter Alex Meyer as catcher Micah Gibbs delivered an RBI single and third baseman Alex Edward drew a bases-loaded walk.

Kentucky plated a run in the second as Nidiffer walked and later scored on a groundout by shortstop Taylor Black.

LSU increased its lead to 4-1 in the third on a two-run homer by designated hitter Matt Gaudet, his 16th dinger of the season.

The Wildcats narrowed the deficit to 4-2 in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by designated hitter Braden Kapteyn and centerfielder Keenan Wiley.

 

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