HOOVER, Ala. – First baseman Greg Deichmann hit a game-tying solo home run and shortstop Kramer Robertson finished off a bottom-of-the-ninth rally with a bases-loaded single to give the LSU baseball team a 5-4 victory over No. 12 seeded Tennessee late Tuesday in the SEC Tournament.
LSU (40-17), the seventh-ranked team in the nation, rallied from a 4-0 deficit with three runs in the seventh and two more in the ninth in the first-round game. Tennessee completed its season with a 29-28 record.
The No. 5 seed Tigers advanced to face No. 4 seed Florida at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday as double-elimination play begins until Saturday in the 12-team tournament. Wednesday's game will be televised on the SEC Network and streamed on WatchESPN. The LSU Sports Radio Network broadcast will begin approximately 7:30 p.m. on Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and at www.LSUsports.net/live.
“When Deichmann hit that ball, man, that ball was crushed,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “That was beautiful. Then, of course we kept the inning going, and
Kramer came up with the clutch hit. How many clutch hits can one human being get in a season for your team? He’s just been amazing.”
Hunter Newman (1-0), the last of six pitchers used by LSU, earned the win after tossing shutout frames in the eighth and ninth. Newman allowed no hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
“The real key was Hunter Newman’s performance coming out of the pen,” Mainieri said. “He kept us right there after we got the three runs in the seventh and had a guy thrown out at the plate with a chance to tie the game. Hunter dominated his two innings and gave us a chance to rally there in the ninth inning.”
Despite having three runners thrown out at home plate and committing three errors, the Tigers staged the late-inning rally to stay alive in the tournament.
Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning, designated hitter Bryce Jordan led off with a double and came around to score with a double by Deichmann. With two outs, second baseman Cole Freeman singled to right to drive in another run. After centerfielder Jake Fraley drew a walk, Robertson singled to left field to score Freeman before Duplantis was thrown out at home. LSU cut the advantage to 4-3 to setup the ninth-inning walk-off.
In the ninth, Deichmann led off the inning by hitting a 2-2 fastball from reliever Hunter Martin over the centerfield wall to tie the game at 4-4.
Beau Jordan walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Pinch runner Brennan Breaux advanced to third base on a wild pitch and Tennessee elected to walk Fraley to load the bases for Robertson. The shortstop atoned for his two errors by rifling a base hit down the third-base line.
“When I came up to bat there, I knew after Greg (Deichmann) had hit the home run, I was telling everybody that we wanted to win it this inning because they had some of their big bats coming up,” Robertson said. “I knew they could do some damage, even though Newman was in there and shutting them down. I really wanted to make sure we won it there in the bottom of the ninth. Credit all of those guys in front of me for winning their at-bats and getting it to me.
“I think the play that is not going to be recognized and is one of the plays of the game was (pinch runner) Brennan Breaux taking third base on a dirt ball read. I don’t know how many freshmen would have the guts to make that play. I don’t know if I would have had the guts to make that play, but that set up the bases-loaded with one out for me. All I had to do was put a ball in play out of the infield and was fortunate to do it. I scared everybody and got to two strikes, but I was fortunate to keep that ball fair.”
Martin (3-3) was charged with the loss as he surrendered two runs on two hits in one inning of work with three walks and one strikeout.
Tennessee broke a 0-0 tie in the top of the fourth inning against LSU reliever Austin Bain when first baseman Jordan Rodgers delivered a two-out, RBI single to score rightfielder Chris Hall, who had opened the frame with a single.
The Vols extended the lead to 2-0 in the fifth against reliever Russell Reynolds when catcher Tyler Schultz reached on a bunt single, stole second base and scored on a single by shortstop Max Bartlett.
Tennessee added two runs in the sixth as leftfielder Vincent Jackson smacked an RBI single, and third baseman Nick Senzel scored from third on wild pitch.
Tennessee starting pitcher Will Neely blanked the Tigers for six innings, but LSU erupted for three runs on five hits in the seventh to narrow the deficit to 4-3.
LSU left-hander Jake Latz, making his first career start against an SEC team, worked two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with no walks and two strikeouts, firing 28 pitches.
WALK OFFFFF!!!!!— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) May 25, 2016
TIGERS WIN! TIGERS WIN! pic.twitter.com/iMlPSciZiz