LSU holds Arkansas to one hit in 3-1 victory to advance to SEC title game
HOOVER, Ala. -- The LSU pitching staff held Arkansas to one hit in a 3-1 SEC Tournament semifinal victory Saturday at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
The second-ranked Tigers improved to 51-9 on the season, and advance to the SEC Tournament Championship Game on Sunday against Vanderbilt.
LSU will attempt to win its 10 SEC Tournament title and its fourth in the past six seasons. Senior left-hander Brent Bonvillain will start Sunday’s game on the mound for the Tigers.
The one-hitter Saturday was the first recorded by LSU since May 29, 2010, when Ben Alsup fired a seven-inning one-hitter against Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament in Hoover.
Saturday’s one-hit outing was the first by an LSU staff in a nine-inning game since April 23, 2008, when the Tigers fired a one-hitter against McNeese State in Baton Rouge.
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“The key to the game today was pitching, which was absolutely phenomenal,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “To give a team like Arkansas one hit through nine innings is amazing. (LSU starting pitcher) Hunter Newman gave us a good start, and he threw the ball well. Our guys coming out of the bullpen were fantastic.
“It was a great pitching performance by our team. We pitched, played defense and scratch a couple of runs across.”
The Razorbacks took a 1-0 lead in the third frame when second baseman Mason Katz misplayed a fly ball in shallow right field.
The sixth inning began with a leadoff walk from Katz, followed by a single by leftfielder Raph Rhymes. Third baseman Christian Ibarra then connected for an RBI single into left field, evening the game at 1-1.
Catcher Ty Ross executed a perfect sacrifice bunt down the third base line, moving Ibarra and Rhymes to second and third. First baseman Tyler Moore then sent a hard grounder to Arkansas shortstop Brett McAfee, who was late on a throw to the plate attempting to retire Rhymes, giving LSU a 2-1 advantage.
Ibarra, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBI on the day, came through again in the seventh inning with an RBI double to centerfield, providing LSU a 3-1 cushion.
LSU closer Chris Cotton wrapped up the victory in the ninth retiring Arkansas in order while striking out one, marking his 15th save of the year.
Newman, a freshman right-hander, was effective on the mound in four innings of work, striking out three while not giving up a hit.
Junior right-hander Will LaMarche (2-0) provided two innings of solid relief, allowing the lone Arkansas hit while striking out one in earning the victory. LSU right-handers Joey Bourgeois and Kevin Berry each fired a shutout inning to contribute to the pitching effort.
Razorback reliever Brandon Moore (1-4) suffered the defeat, allowing two runs on two hits and one walk in 0.1 inning.