By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
Highlights | Box Score
HOOVER, Ala. – Second-seeded LSU used five pitchers to toss just the third one-hitter in Southeastern Conference Tournament history Saturday, leading the Tigers to their first spot in the league tournament championship game since 2010 with a 3-1 win against third-seeded Arkansas at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
LSU (51-9) advances to the SEC Tournament Championship Game, where it will face the winner of the Mississippi State vs. Vanderbilt semifinal. Sunday’s Championship is slated for a 3:30 p.m. CT start on ESPN2. Arkansas (37-20) is eliminated from the SEC Baseball Tournament.
Will Lamarche (2-0) picked up the win for LSU, while Chris Cotton earned his 15th save of the year.
Arkansas got on the board first in the bottom of the third as Jake Wise walked to open the inning, advanced to second on an error, was sacrificed to third and scored on a dropped fly ball, putting the Razorbacks ahead 1-0.
LSU responded with two runs to move in front 2-1. Mason Katz walked to open the inning and Raph Rhymes singled to right center. A single by Christian Ibarra drove in Katz. Rhymes later scored on a fielder’s choice.
LSU added a run in the top of the seventh inning as Jared Foster singled to begin the frame and was driven in by Ibarra’s double to left center.
2013 SEC Baseball Tournament
Game 15 – Saturday, May 25 – 12:00 p.m.
#2 LSU vs. #3 Arkansas
Arkansas Postgame Quotes
Coach Dave Van Horn
“Probably the positive for us, and there weren’t very many, is that we were able to wiggle out of a lot of jams; LSU couldn’t have scored a few more runs. I thought our bullpen did a tremendous job for the most part, coming in and getting a hitter or two, double play. They all came through for us and gave us a chance. Offensively we didn’t do much of anything. We got to get back, get a little rest and great ready for regional play.”
On whether he believes Arkansas will host a regional
“I think they (the team) deserve one in Fayetteville. We have 20 wins against SEC teams, won seven out of 10 series, won four out of five on the road. They had a lot of wins and I think they deserve one. We’ve been on the road for 11 days, it would be nice to be home and play.”
On where momentum is after the tournament
“I think we had some momentum the first couple of days, today might have been a little bit of a step back. I think the good thing about this team is that we have guys who have been there this time of year and I think the way it did not happen today will motivate us. We will have a couple of good practices and stick to more of a defensive minded lineup. Today was supposed to be a more offensive lineup but it didn’t happen. Some guys just didn’t do a very good job at the plate and they’d be the first to tell you. I think the team kind of bonded during this road trip and I think we’ll play well in the regional.”
On LSU allowing only one hit
“You can’t win with one hit, especially against a team like that. They gave us some chances early but we didn’t get hits or score runs when we could have, and that was the biggest regret for the hitters.”
On playing on the road versus at home
“It’s always nice to be home and host a regional, but if we don’t, we don’t. We have a bunch of guys that have the experience. Some of us also like to be on the road because we stay in a hotel and are together all the time, so for us doesn’t really matter if we’re at home or on the road.”
On why it is so difficult to beat LSU
“They’re a tough team; they’re the number two team in the country. They are a great team; we have a lot of respect for them. You have to come and play your hardest against them, every at-bat and every pitch. They’re not going to give you anything, they don’t make any mistakes. You just have to play as hard as you can.”
LSU Postgame Quotes
Coach Paul Mainieri
“We get to stick around for another day. We’re happy about that. The key to our game today was our pitching, which was absolutely phenomenal. To give a team like Arkansas one hit through nine innings was amazing. I thought Hunter Newman was key to the game because he got us off to a good start. He threw the ball well. Unfortunately, we had to take him out in the fifth. Our guys coming out of the bullpen were fantastic, beginning with Will. It was a great pitching performance by our team. We pitch, play defense and scratch a couple across. That’s what we did today.”
On team’s depth
“As soon as we got the last out, I started looking at it again. I think we’re going to be okay for tomorrow. We’ve got a handful of guys that are rested and ready to go. I don’t doubt that Chris Cotton will be available. The great thing about him is that not only does he get the job done, he gets it done fast. I don’t think we’ll have trouble tomorrow. We just need to pitch well.”
On Mark Laird’s injury
“He made a great catch in practice. When we went to field the ball, he stepped on his glove and rolled his ankle. He was down for a while. He had an x-ray this morning and he has an ankle sprain. We don’t know how severe it is. We’ll get an MRI Monday morning.”
On confidence in teammates
“I think that’s what makes this team so special. When a guy goes down, there’s another guy waiting for his turn. I think Jared Foster was ready for the opportunity and took advantage of it.”
On playing for the SEC Championship
“This is what it’s all about. We get to wake up in the morning and play for the championship. That’s why I came back for my senior year. We’re here to win championships and now we have the opportunity to do that.”
On Arkansas rivalry
“This is the first year I’ve had to face Arkansas. They are a great scrappy team. They get the hit-and-runs and that’s what makes them a great team. I enjoy playing against them.”
On confidence from his double play
“That’s what we work on almost every practice. We work on double play kind of things. I really didn’t have to think. For this to happen really boosted my confidence and created more energy for me. I just embraced the moment instead of trying to downplay emotions. Focusing on the positives helps with me getting outs.”