By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
Highlights | Box Score
HOOVER, Ala. – Third-seeded Arkansas opened up a close game with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning to remain undefeated at the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament with a 4-1 victory against second-seeded LSU on Thursday at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Arkansas (37-19) advances to Saturday’s semifinal, which will be played at 12 p.m. CT on ESPNews. LSU (49-9) will face seventh-seeded Alabama at 3 p.m. CT Friday on CSS.
Arkansas starter Ryne Stanek (9-2) earned the victory, pitching 8.0 innings, scattering six hits, no earned runs and struck out four. Reliever Colby Suggs picked up his 12th save of the season, pitching the final frame with one strikeout. He tied the Arkansas single-season school record for saves.
LSU got on the board in the bottom of the third inning. Sean McMullen singled to left-center field with two outs and scored on a throwing error resulting from a fielder’s choice by Alex Bregman.
Arkansas tied the score in the top of the fifth as Jean Ramirez singled up the middle with one out and was driven in by Joe Serrano’s RBI double to knot the score at 1-1.
The Razorbacks took a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth as Matt Vinson singled up the middle and was driven in on a bunt by Tyler Spoon.
Arkansas added a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning. Eric Fisher singled to right field and was pinch ran for by Jacob Morris. Serrano singled to the pitcher to drive in Morris, while a bunt single by Vinson scored Serrano.
2013 SEC Baseball Tournament
Game 11 – Thursday, May 23 – 5:20 p.m.
#3 Arkansas vs. #2 LSU
Arkansas Postgame Quotes
Dave Van Horn
“I thought the starting pitchers did a tremendous job; they’re both outstanding in their records and their ERAs show that. It’s not something that happened every now and then with those guys, it happens every time they are on the mound. We felt like it was going to be a tight game and it was. I’m proud of our guys battling at the plate against (Aaron) Nola. It was a good team; we got to use a back-up catcher and it was a good team win for us.”
On Ryne Stanek’s performance
I think if you take out the fourth inning where he walked three in a row and threw 20 extra pitches, I thought he had one of his better outings of the year. He’s strong as an ox.”
On Colby Suggs getting his 12th save
“He’s been lights out pretty much every time out. Again tonight, throwing the ball 95+ with an upper 80s nasty slider, it was good to see him go out there and get right through that inning. Great job by him; you have to have a closer this day, scores are tight and you have to be able to finish games.”
On his performance today
“My job is to go out there and throw up zeros. It doesn’t really matter who it is against. It feels good because they have a really good team. I’m out there just doing what I can to try and keep us in the ballgame and get us a win.”
On struggling in the fourth inning
“I feel like I was trying to be really fine. Then I got behind and tried to make too good of pitches. Then I was feeling for it a little bit instead of just pounding the zone like I was pretty much every other inning. I nibbled, missed and wasn’t being efficient.”
On batting against Aaron Nola
“We knew with Nola on the mound, we weren’t going to get many great opportunities. We just had to do what we could. It was a great job by Joe (Serrano) when he executed the hit and run and Jean (Ramirez) scored from first. That was awesome. When Nola came out, we kind of jumped on him a little bit and got some timely hits.”
On batting against Aaron Nola
“We just did our jobs on the bases. We haven’t been scoring many late runs. We came through. We got (Ryne) Stanek the win. He pitched his heart out there.”
LSU Postgame Quotes
Coach Paul Mainieri
“The stage was set for a really good game tonight. I don’t think anyone was disappointed in the pitcher’s duel. I thought Aaron pitched his heart out. You have to tip your hat to Stanek. He’s really good. He’s about ready for the big leagues. He was throwing a lot of off speed pitches when he was behind in counts. That really surprised us. We thought he would challenge us a little bit more. He was the story of the game. I thought Aaron was phenomenal but he had to use a few more pitches to get through seven innings. He had a 20 pitch first inning and it was a shutout inning and the difference in the game was me not being able to go the eighth inning with him and they stayed with their guy for that inning. They have power arms. We knew that they did. We knew it would be this kind of game. We just didn’t take advantage of the scoring opportunities we had.”
On Aaron Nola
“I thought Nola was fantastic. When you give a guy a rest, you’re concerned about fast ball command in the first game back. I thought his command was off slightly today. He only walked one batter. He gave up six hits. The problem was that it took a few more pitches than normal to get guys out.”
On changes coaching staff can make
“I can’t hit for them. All I can do is encourage them and coach them. They just have to go out and compete. We do the best we can. I have a lot of confidence with my guys.”
On tonight’s game
“Stanek pitched a great game. We were expecting that. He’s been great all year. He made clutch pitches throughout the game. He got quick outs and we couldn’t pull through.”
On being in the loser’s bracket
“It’s win or go home. This is when it gets fun. We have to play as a team. No one said it would be easy. I’m looking forward to it.”
On being rested for two weeks
“I felt good. My body and mind were refreshed. I didn’t have my fast ball command like I usually do. I made some clutch pitches when I needed to.”