HOOVER, Ala. -- Second-ranked LSU used ninth-inning magic to defeat Alabama, 3-2, in an SEC Tournament elimination game Friday at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Trailing 2-1 with two outs in the top of the ninth, first baseman Tyler Moore launched a 3-2 pitch into the right-center field gap, scoring pinch runner Jared Foster and evening the game at 2-2.
Catcher Ty Ross followed with the game-winning single to left, scoring Moore from second and putting the Tigers ahead 3-2.
LSU closer Chris Cotton closed the door in the bottom of the ninth, striking out the side and recording his 14th save of the season.
LSU improved to 50-9 this season, becoming the first Fighting Tiger team to post 50 wins in less than 60 games. Alabama dropped to 34-26 with Friday’s loss.
The 2013 LSU squad also joins the 1986 Fighting Tiger team as being the only clubs in school history to record 50 victories before NCAA Tournament play.
The Tigers advance to a rematch with No. 12 Arkansas (37-19) Saturday at Noon in a game that will be televised by ESPNews. The game can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network, and live video will air on ESPN3.com.
“What a tremendous ball game,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said after Friday’s win. “Tyler Moore stepped up and came through for us. It was a great environment for college baseball, and I’m sure our players had a great time playing the game today.
“(LSU starter) Ryan Eades kept us in the game and gave us a chance. It was frustrating at times that we weren’t scoring because I thought we had some good at-bats. The big ball park and the wind blowing in were definitely factors today. Our kids were excited to play today, and I’m glad things turned out the way they did. It was an emotional boost for our team, and the win will give us confidence going forward.”
Arkansas will start left-hander Randall Fant on the mound, while LSU is expected to counter with either left-hander Brent Bonvillain or right-hander Hunter Newman.
The Tigers pulled ahead 1-0 in the third Friday on a two-out RBI double to left-center from designated hitter Sean McMullen, scoring Moore, who had started the inning with a walk. The inning ended as McMullen was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
Alabama grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fifth on an RBI triple from shortstop Mikey White and an RBI single from catcher Brett Booth.
Alabama starting pitcher Mike Oczypok gave a valiant effort through 8.2 innings of work, allowing three runs on 10 hits and one walk while striking out five.
Eades was excellent in a seven-inning outing, limiting the Crimson Tide to two runs with one walk and four strikeouts, firing an efficient 72 pitchers.
Junior right-hander Nate Fury (2-1) earned the victory striking out two in a scoreless bottom of the eighth.