Byrd Fires Gem; Baseball Takes Series Over No. 13 Ole Miss
LSU Sports Interactive
BATON ROUGE -- Sophomore left-hander Ryan Byrd fired the first complete game by an LSU pitcher this season, pacing the Tigers to a series-clinching 8-2 victory over No. 13 Ole Miss on a windy Saturday at Alex Box Stadium.
LSU (21-15-1, 6-7-1 SEC) captured its first Southeastern Conference series win at home since taking two games from Arkansas last April. The Tigers are in sole possession of fourth place in the SEC Western Division standings.
The Rebels (24-13, 7-7) lost their 14th straight series in Baton Rouge and have not won a series in Alex Box Stadium since 1982. Ole Miss holds a one-half game lead over LSU for third place in the SEC West.
The Tigers seek their first SEC home sweep since 2003 in Game 3 of the series at 1 p.m. Sunday. LSU freshman right-hander T.J. Forrest (1-1, 2.84) is scheduled to meet Rebel freshman southpaw Nathan Baker (4-1, 2.90).
Byrd (5-1) scattered seven hits and allowed two runs in nine innings of work. Byrd, whose previous career-long outing was seven innings, walked none and struck out three on an economical 105 pitches.
"I was able to hit my spots on everything and that is the name of the game," said Byrd. "It was a great game all around, a team effort."
Byrd's gem marked the first complete game by a Tiger pitcher since Derik Olvey fired nine innings in a 2-1 loss to South Carolina on April 2, 2006. Byrd became the first LSU pitcher to earn a complete-game SEC win since Clay Dirks defeated Tennessee on May 14, 2005.
"It's a great honor to throw a complete game," said Byrd. "To do it here in front of the home crowd against Ole Miss and to take the series is a big thrill."
Byrd benefited from several stellar defensive plays led by shortstop Michael Hollander. Hollander tied a school single-game record with 10 assists, including five straight between the second and third innings.
"Michael Hollander was unbelievable at shortstop today," said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "It seemed like every other play was hit to him, and I just thought he played phenomenal shortstop. He was as important in this game as Ryan Byrd was."
Hollander became the third player in school history to tally 10 assists, which was last achieved by Mike Fontenot in the 2000 College World Series against Texas.
For the fourth straight game LSU pounded out double-digit hits with 12, and it all started at the top as the Tigers first three hitters -- third baseman Chris Jackson, centerfielder Jared Mitchell and designated hitter Blake Dean -- combined to go 6-for-13 with four runs and two RBI.
"Once again it was just a great team victory," said Mainieri. "The first (inning) set the tone. We got some big hits early in the game. It was nice to get a little lead."
Catcher Robert Lara added two hits and drove in two. Hollander was 1-for-3 with two RBI.
Ole Miss starter Lance Lynn (3-3) allowed a season-high five earned runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out seven in 5.2 innings of work.
LSU carried the momentum of Friday night's thrilling victory into the first inning on Saturday as the first three Tigers in the order collected hits and scored against Lynn. Jackson lined a leadoff double into the left field corner, and Mitchell laid down a perfect bunt single.
Dean wasted little time in extending his hitting streak to 17 games with an opposite field RBI single to left. Mitchell scored via a bases loaded walk when Lara earned a free pass. Second baseman Nicholas Pontiff made it a 3-0 contest with a run-scoring ground out.
Ole Miss cut the deficit to 3-1 on a Cody Overbeck solo homer in the second, but the Rebels could not narrow the gap further.
LSU added a pair of runs in the middle innings on an RBI grounder by Hollander in the fourth and a solid run-scoring single up the middle by Mitchell in the sixth.
The Tigers put the game out of reach with three runs in their final two at-bats against Rebel pitchers Craig Rodriguez and Jesse Simpson.
Left fielder Ryan Schimpf started the seventh inning by popping up a ball up that carried away from third base and dropped for a hit. Lara beat out a bunt single past the pitcher, and the two advanced a base on a double steal. Two batters later, right fielder Chris McGhee drove in a run on a fielder's choice. Hollander beat out an infield single, scoring Lara to make it a 7-1 advantage.
Leading 8-1, Byrd came back out for the ninth to a rousing applause from the LSU faithful. He made quick work of the first two hitters, but surrendered a two-out double to Overbeck. Centerfielder Logan Power drove in Ole Miss' first run since the second inning with an RBI single up the middle.
However, Byrd then induced a fielder's choice grounder, fittingly to Hollander, who ended the game with his record-tying 10th assist.