HOOVER, Ala. – Shortstop Alex Bregman drove in five runs Wednesday, and left-hander Jared Poche’ earned his ninth win of the season as eighth-ranked LSU defeated No. 10 Vanderbilt, 11-1, in the SEC Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
The game was stopped and declared official in the bottom of the seventh inning when LSU expanded its lead to 10 runs. Games in the SEC Tournament, with the exception of the championship game, are halted if a team has a lead of 10 or more runs through the seventh inning.
LSU (41-14-1), winners of five straight games, will play at 4:30 p.m. CT Thursday against Arkansas, which beat Ole Miss, 2-1, to advance. Vanderbilt (41-17) will play the loser of the Ole Miss at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Bregman was 3-for-4 at the plate with a three-run homer, a double and five RBI. Poche’ fired seven innings, limiting the Commodores to one run on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
The Tigers have scored a remarkable 67 runs on 76 hits during their five-game win streak.
“It was a great, solid victory for the Tigers today,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I was just an outstanding performance in every phase. Poche’ set the tone, he pitched around some trouble in the first inning and limited the damage. It was one of those day where we swung the bats great again, and we played very good defense. It was a good way to start the tournament by beating an outstanding ball club like Vanderbilt.”
LSU, which has won the SEC Tournament title in four of the past six seasons, improved to 19-4 in conference tournament games during Mainieri’s eight-season tenure.
Vanderbilt opened the scoring in the top of the first when second baseman Dansby Swanson doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Xavier Turner and crossed the plate on a single by leftfielder Bryan Reynolds.
LSU tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the first against Vanderbilt starter Jared Miller. Rightfielder Mark Laird doubled, moved to third on Bregman’s groundout and scored on designated hitter Chris Chinea’s grounder to short.
“Tying the ball game up was huge,” said Poche’, a freshman from Lutcher, La. “I was able to go out there and throw strikes. We put some more runs on the board. I feel anyone could pitch with a lead like that and a great defense behind you.”
LSU erupted for four runs in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead. Second baseman Conner Hale led off the inning with a double and later scored on a Miller wild pitch to give the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.
Bregman then punctuated the inning with a two-out, three-run homer against reliever Hayden Stone. The dinger was the sixth of the year for Bregman and the first allowed this season by Stone.
“I think we came out today with the approach of getting on base and putting together quality at-bats,” Bregman said. “We stuck to that approach the entire game, and the ball was traveling well.”
The Tigers added two runs in the sixth as Bregman delivered a sacrifice fly and designated hitter Jake Fraley lined an RBI single.
LSU ended the game in the seventh with three more runs as Laird ripped a two-run triple and Bregman drilled an RBI double to give the Tigers a 10-run advantage.
2014 SEC Baseball Tournament Bracket
Tuesday, May 20 (single elimination)
Game 1 - #6 Vanderbilt def. #11 Tennessee, 3-2
Game 2 - #7 Arkansas def. #10 Texas A&M, 4-0
Game 3 - #9 Kentucky def. #8 Alabama, 7-1
Game 4 - #5 Mississippi State def. #12 Georgia, 5-4 (10)
Wednesday, May 21 (double elimination)
Game 5, #3 LSU def. #6 Vanderbilt, 11-1 (7)
Game 6, #7 Arkansas def. #2 Ole Miss, 2-1
Game 7, #9 Kentucky def. #1 Florida, 4-2
Game 8, 8:35 p.m. - #5 Mississippi State def. #4 South Carolina, 12-0 (7)
Thursday, May 22
Game 9 - #2 Ole Miss def. #6 Vanderbilt, 7-2
Game 10 - #1 Florida def. #4 South Carolina, 7-2
Game 11, 4:30 p.m. - #3 LSU vs. #7 Arkansas [CSS/CST] | ESPN3.com
Game 12, TBD - #5 Mississippi State vs. #9 Kentucky [CSS/CST] | ESPN3.com
Friday, May 23
Game 13, 3 p.m. - #2 Ole Miss vs. Loser Game 11 [CSS/CST] | ESPN3.com
Game 14, TBD - #1 Florida vs. Loser 12 [CSS/CST] | ESPN3.com
Saturday, May 24 (single elimination)
Game 15, Noon - Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 11 [ESPNEWS] | WatchESPN
Game 16, TBD - Winner Game 14 vs. Winner Game 12 [ESPNEWS] | WatchESPN
Sunday, May 25
Game 17, 3:30 p.m. - Winner Game 15 vs. Winner Game 16 [ESPN2] | WatchESPN
All Times Central
[SPSO/FSN] - SportSouth/Fox Sports Net; [CSS/CST] - Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast simulcast on Cox Sports Television in Louisiana;
All games available in HD and on WatchESPN and/or ESPN3
SEC Tournament TV & Streaming Video Coverage
9:30 a.m. & TBA - SportSouth – not available on digital platforms inside the SEC footprint (out of footprint - coverage on ESPN3 and WatchESPN)
4:30 & TBA - CSS with coverage ESPN3 and WatchESPN (No blackouts)
3 p.m. & TBA - CSS - with coverage on ESPN3 and WatchESPN (No blackouts)
Noon & TBA - ESPNews - with coverage on ESPN3 and WatchESPN (No blackouts)
3:30 p.m. - ESPN2 - with coverage on ESPN3 and WatchESPN (No blackouts)
POSTGAME QUOTES (via SECsports.com)
LSU Coach Paul Mainieri
“It was a great, solid victory for the Tigers today. It was really just an outstanding performance in every phase. Poche set the tone, he pitched around some trouble in the first inning. The first batter hit a ball that typically Sean (McMullen) would catch. I think the key in that inning is that Jared limited the damage. It was one of those days where we swung the bats great again. Overall, we played really good defense. It was a good way to start the tournament by beating an outstanding ball club like Vanderbilt.”
Alex Bregman, SS
“I think we came with the approach of getting on base and putting together quality at bats. I think we let the ball travel a lot more than the first time. For myself, I was out on my front foot against him the last game. He was changing speeds. My first at bat, I just tried to hit a groundball the other way. Other than that, I think everyone else stuck with the same approach.”
Jared Poche', LHP
“Tying the ball game up was huge. I was able to go out there and throw strikes. We put some more runs up on the board. I feel anyone could pitch with a lead like that and a defense behind you.”
Vanderbilt Coach Tim Corbin
“You have to credit LSU. They hit the ball well, obviously. The inning for us that changed the complexion of the game was the fourth inning. What could have been a fly ball out early converted into a double and so on. I thought Jared pitched well at the beginning of the game. As the game progressed and as they got base runners, they took some good swings and took advantage of us. (Jared) Poche’ pitched well. If there was any momentum for us it was after the four-run inning when we had runners on first and second with one out, and he got us to ground into a double play. You have to credit LSU. They played well.”
“(Mark) Laird presents the ability to use his legs and stay inside the ball. He is a good leadoff hitter. He sets the table for them. (Alex) Bregman is full of presence. He has a flat swing. He is a good hitter. You feel hitters like that when they are in the box. He certainly deserves all of credit the coaches give him. He works hard at his craft. He can see the ball well, and he is a very confident young man.”
Jared Miller, LHP
“I came out trying to attack and set the pace of the game. I felt good from the start. I got myself into a little bit of trouble, but that is just how baseball plays.”
“Obviously, I had success against them earlier in the year, but I came out in attack mode and I know LSU likes to swing the bat. They took some good swings on some pitches that were up in the zone today.”
Dansby Swanson, 2B
“He (Jared Poche’) just mixed his pitches well. He stayed in the strike zone. He didn’t allow us to get any opportunities off of him. He kept it down in the zone, and we couldn’t get put as many good swings on as we would have liked.”