HOOVER, Ala. -- A brilliant eight-inning performance by LSU right-hander Louis Coleman and timely base hits for the Tigers were enough to lift top seeded LSU past fifth-seeded South Carolina 4-1 Friday night in the SEC tournament at Regions Park.
The Tigers (43-16) will face off against Georgia on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CT. If LSU defeats the Bulldogs, the teams would meet again later in the day (either 5 or 8:30 p.m., depending on the outcome of the day's other games).
Georgia is 2-0 in the SEC tournament with wins over Ole Miss (6-3) and Arkansas (2-1 in 10 innings).
The 1:30 p.m. game will be televised on Fox Sports Net (Cox Cable channel 38 in Baton Rouge). It will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network (WDGL 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge). Live audio and stats will also be available in the Geaux Zone at www.lsusports.net. Live streaming video of the "if necessary" games on Saturday will be available on secsports.com.
South Carolina (38-20) was eliminated from the tournament with Friday’s loss and the Gamecocks will now await an NCAA tournament invitation, which will be announced Monday.
Coleman (11-2) pitched a magnificent game, throwing eight innings and allowing one run on seven hits while walking none and striking out seven. Coleman, the 2009 SEC Pitcher of the Year, worked seven scoreless innings, and retired the side in order in all but two of his eight innings.
“Louis Coleman has meant so much to our program, and I’m so happy for him,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It was his final appearance in the SEC Tournament, and he made it one to remember. The win is important to us because it allows us to keep playing. We’re taking one game at a time, and our focus will now be on Georgia. If we can beat them once, then we’ll do our best to get a second win and have a chance to get to the championship game on Sunday.”
The starting pitchers for each team – Coleman and South Carolina left-hander Nolan Belcher -- started hot as there were no runs scored through the first five innings of play.
LSU threatened in the top of the fourth with runners at second and third before Belcher struck out Jared Mitchell to end the inning.
Coleman allowed only two hits during that span, including a double in the fourth to South Carolina right fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr.
The Tigers finally broke the scoreless tie in the top of the sixth when catcher Micah Gibbs doubled to right center, scoring Blake Dean from first. With the hit, Gibbs extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games.
After Gibbs advanced to third on a wild pitch, centerfielder Mikie Mahtook singled up the middle to score Gibbs and make the score 2-0 in favor of LSU.
Belcher (4-4) left the game after the six innings, giving way to another Gamecock lefty, Adam Westmoreland. Belcher allowed two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four.
LSU finally got to Westmoreland in the eighth when DJ LeMahieu reached second on an error by South Carolina third baseman Andrew Crisp. LeMahieu advanced to third on a passed ball and Westmoreland walked Ryan Schimpf and Blake Dean to load the bases with no outs.
LeMahieu crossed the plate on a wild pitch by Westmoreland to give LSU a 3-0 advantage. Schimpf and Dean moved into scoring position on the play.
After Schimpf was tagged out at the plate on a fielder’s choice by Mahtook, first baseman Sean Ochinko singled through the right side to score Dean and put the Tigers up 4-0.
The Gamecocks got on the board in the bottom of the eighth when pinch hitter Brady Thomas homered off Coleman to cut the deficit to 4-1.
South Carolina fought back in the ninth when they loaded the bases with no outs. Matty Ott entered the game and earned his 14th save of the season. He fanned Gamecock home run leader Nick Ebert for the first out. The next batter, Jeffery Jones, lined out to LeMahieu and then Ott struck out pinch hitter Michael Roth to end the game.
The 14 saves for Ott ties the LSU single-season record set in 1991 by right-hander Rick Greene, who picked up his final save versus Wichita State in the ’91 national championship game in Omaha, Neb.
LSU 4, South Carolina 1 (May 22, 2009 at Hoover, Ala.)
LSU...................... 000 002 020 - 4 6 0 (43-16)
South Carolina...... 000 000 010 - 1 7 1 (38-21)
Pitchers: LSU - Louis Coleman; Chad Jones(9); Matty Ott(9).
South Carolina - Nolan Belcher; Adam Westmoreland(7); Steven Neff(8).
Win-Louis Coleman(11-2) Save-Matty Ott(14) Loss-Nolan Belcher(4-4) T-2:48 A-7243
HR USC - Brady Thomas (1).
Coleman faced 2 batters in the 9th.
Jones faced 1 batter in the 9th.
2009 SEC Baseball Tournament
Wednesday, May 20
Game 1: #7 Arkansas def. #2 Florida 8-5
Game 2: #6 Georgia def. #3 Ole Miss 6-3
Game 3: #8 Vanderbilt def. #1 LSU 4-1
Game 4: #5 South Carolina def. #4 Alabama 9-5 (11)
Thursday, May 21
Game 5: #2 Florida def. #3 Ole Miss 12-2 (8)
Game 6: #1 LSU def. #4 Alabama, 9-6
Game 7: #6 Georgia def. #7 Arkansas, 2-1 (10)
Game 8: #8 Vanderbilt def. #5 South Carolina, 9-5
Friday, May 22
Game 9: #7 Arkansas def. #2 Florida, 10-7
Game 10: #1 LSU def. #5 South Carolina, 4-1
Saturday, May 23
Game 11: #8 Vanderbilt vs. #7 Arkansas, 10 a.m. FSN
Game 12: #6 Georgia vs. #1 LSU, 1:30 p.m. FSN
Game 13: #8 Vanderbilt vs. #7 Arkansas (if nec.), 5 p.m. SECsports.com
Game 14: #6 Georgia vs. #1 LSU (if nec.), 8:30 p.m. SECsports.com
Sunday, May 24
Game 15: Winner G13 vs. Winner G14, 3 p.m. FSN