The LSU Tigers sent the Alabama Crimson Tide packing with a 3-2 victory in Friday’s elimination game. However, Alabama, who suffered both losses of the tournament to LSU, actually lead for the majority of the game. In fact, with two outs in the top of the ninth with nobody on base, Alabama actually still lead 2-1.
Ibarra stepped to the plate with two outs and Alabama fans on their feet when he singled to keep LSU alive. Then the real magic happened when Tyler Moore and Ty Ross, the seven and eight hitters in the Tigers’ lineup, were able to find the gapes as both aided LSU in exiting perfect back-to-back hit and runs to take a 3-2 lead before finally heading to the bottom of the ninth.
LSU reliever, Chris Cotton entered the game for the Tigers on the mound where he struck out the side in twelve pitches to secure an LSU victory.
“I thought it was a tough one on our end. Mike (Oczypok) was tremendous today in a very well-played game. I give LSU credit there in the ninth innings; Mike did his job, stuck the ball in the strike zone and obviously (Tyler) Moore and (Ty) Ross got some big hits but it doesn’t take anything away. I thought both teams played extremely well; I thought offensively we did a really good job. It was just one of those games that didn’t line up for us but I was really pleased with the effort from our team throughout the game,” said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard of the loss.
Both Alabama’s Mike Oczypok and LSU’s Ryan Eades had tremendous starts. The final line on Oczypok was 8.2 innings pitched, ten hits and three runs (all earned), with one walk and five strikeouts in 120 pitches. The final line on Eades was 7.0 innings pitched, four hits and two runs (both earned), with one walk and four strikeouts on 72 pitches total.
“What a tremendous ballgame,” said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri.
“Ryan kept us in the game and gave us a chance. It was frustrating at times because we thought we had good at-bats. Ty Ross would have had a hit out of the ballpark, but the wind prevented that. Our defense kept us in the game. Their pitcher surprised us a little. He had a hard sinker and threw many strikes. Tyler Moore stepped up and came through for us. It’s a great environment for college baseball. I’m sure my kids had a great time playing the game today,” Mainieri continued.
When asked of his performance and the game as a whole Eades explained, “This was the biggest game of the season for us up to this point. I wanted to make adjustments after my start last week and improve. I wanted to keep my team in the game and pitch as long as I could. Our goal is to pitch the entire game. When the ball is taken from us, we have confidence in the bullpen to get the job done.”
While Alabama is now eliminated, LSU will rematch Arkansas on Saturday at noon. The Tigers fell to Arkansas earlier in the SEC Tournament. The game is single-elimination, therefore the loser will be going home.