By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
Box Score | Highlights
HOOVER, Ala. – Chris Sciambra’s RBI single in the top of the 11th inning Sunday lifted No. 2 LSU to its 10th Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament title with a 5-4 win against No. 1 Vanderbilt at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
The Tigers (52-9) won their first SEC Tournament title since 2010, also the last time a tournament final went to extra innings. Vanderbilt (51-9) played in the SEC Tournament Championship game for the third consecutive year. Sunday’s game marked the first time in modern era history that the top-two teams nationally have played for the SEC Tournament Championship.
Closer Chris Cotton (4-1), the 2013 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player, picked up the win for LSU, pitching a hitless final 2.2 innings, not allowing any of the eight batters he faced to reach base. Brian Miller (5-2) took the loss for the Commodores.
LSU’s Jared Foster and Andrew Stevenson led the Tigers with two hits each. Jared Foster and Christian Ibarra each scored two runs.
“What a tremendous ballgame,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “It was a great ballgame between two teams fighting their hearts out to win. There was a lot at stake. It was the top-two teams in the nation going against each other. This is the only time we’ve met this year. Our players wanted to win this game badly.”
LSU struck first with three runs in the top of the second. Raph Rhymes singled to begin the inning before being thrown out and Ibarra followed with a walk. Ty Ross and Foster recorded back-to-back singles, the last of which scored Ibarra. A single by Stevenson scored Ross before Sean McMullen hit a sacrifice fly that plated Foster.
Vanderbilt cut to within one, 3-2, in the bottom half of the second inning. Connor Harrell singled to open the frame and Conrad Gregor followed with a double to left center. An RBI ground out by Zander Wiel plated Harrell and a single by Vince Conde scored Gregor.
The Tigers added a run in the top of the fourth inning as Ibarra doubled down the left-field line and was driven in by Foster’s single up the middle to give LSU a 4-2 advantage.
Vanderbilt knotted the score at 4-all in the bottom of the seventh as Harrell and Gregor each singled and were driven in by Conde’s two-run single.
In the top of the 11th, Foster reached on a hit by pitch and stole second base. He was driven in by Sciambria’s RBI single to center field for what proved to be the game-winning run.
“I tip my hat to Vanderbilt,” Mainieri said. “They have a great team. It was a great college baseball game and we’re happy to call ourselves SEC Champions.”
2013 SEC Baseball All-Tournament Team
Most Valuable Player: Chris Cotton, LSU
P: Tyler Beede, Vanderbilt; Daniel Mengden, Texas A&M
P: Ryne Stanek, Arkansas; Chris Cotton, LSU
C: Stuart Turner, Ole Miss
1B: Conrad Gregor, Vanderbilt
2B: Tony Kemp, Vanderbilt
3B: Christian Ibarra, LSU
SS: Adam Frazier, Mississippi State
OF: Connor Harrell, Vanderbilt; Hunter Renfroe, MSU
OF: Tyler Spoon, Arkansas; Jared Foster, LSU
OF: Matt Vinson, Arkansas
DH: Sean McMullen, LSU; Zander Wiel, Vanderbilt
2013 Attendance Figures - Hoover Met
Session 1: 7,421
Session 2: 5,404
Session 3: 6,197
Session 4: 5,913
Session 5: 5,705
Session 6: 8,143
Session 7: 11,207
Session 8: 11,963
Session 9: 10,590
Total Attendance: 134,496 (New Record-High)
Average Per Game: 7,912
Average Per Session: 8,115
2013 SEC Baseball Tournament
Game 17 – Sunday, May 26 – 3:30 p.m.
#1 Vanderbilt vs. #2 LSU
LSU Postgame Quotes
Coach Paul Mainieri
“What a tremendous ballgame. It was a great ballgame between two teams fighting their heart outs to win. There was a lot at stake. It was the top two teams in the nation going against each other. This is the only time we’ve met this year. Our players wanted to win this game badly. I thought we came out playing well. Our bullpen did a tremendous job. It looked like the game was going to go on forever, but Jared stole a clutch base and Christian came with the big base hit. I tip my hat to Vanderbilt. They have a great team. It was a great college baseball game. We’re happy to call ourselves SEC Champions.”
On confidence in bench players
“People wonder why I play all the guys off the bench. I have confidence in them and I’m not afraid to play them because they’re good ball players. All these guys want to be starting players. Sometimes positions aren’t settled because I want to keep players on their toes and know that they’re working for playing time. I won’t hesitate to use them and expect them to get the job done. Jared Foster and Chris Sciambra are examples of this.”
On boost from Andrew Stevenson
“That’s what he’s in the game for. He’s a very fast runner and gets great outs on the ball. He’s got great instincts. He got us out of a jam and kept the lead for us at that time. He made a beautiful catch and is a great player.”
On coming through in the clutch
“We wanted to be ready in the dugout at any time Coach calls on us. We just try to stay in the game. We stay focused and try to give it our all. Everyone on the team did their job.”
On his neck injury last year
“After finding out how bad my injury was, I never thought about not playing again. I was just looking forward to when I would play again for the Tigers. I turned my attention to helping out the team. I never had any doubts in my mind about not playing for this team again.”
On his play today
“It was fun to get out there and play. I just have to stay ready. I just wanted to get the job done.”
On being named Tournament MVP
“Four years ago, I didn’t expect to be here. It’s been a long journey. Playing for LSU has been a dream. It’s been fun. We have four more weeks and we’ll see how that goes.”
Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Tim Corbin
On their inability to finish the game
“We kept responding like I thought we would. I thought when we tied the game up, that we were going to win. We had our opportunities; we just couldn’t crack the safe.”
On the Commodores pitching staff
“The only void is the inability to finish it off. You have two very good teams, two exceptional closers in Cotton and Bryan; it’s a tough way to lose. We weren’t even thinking this way after the loss on Wednesday. I give so much credit to the kids for playing this through, and I thought they would, because that’s their make-up.”
On the SEC and moving forward
“It’s championship baseball. Every pitch means something, every play means something, and every swing means something. The velocity, the spins of the breaking ball, it all matters. It’s high-level baseball. We’ll get three high level teams in our place next week, but these tournaments do prepare you. We’re in the right league to prepare for us what’s next, now we just have to focus our attention to regrouping, and moving forward. That’s difficult right now though.”
On the battle today
“We’ve had success in the past, but just haven’t able to win the last game. We just came into the tournament prepared, ready to go, and play our style of baseball. We have to give a lot of credit to LSU, a team that battled and had great pitching. At the end of the day, our pitching staff did a great job. I give credit to LSU, for battling.”
On the ability to hit
“You just play the game; we had our opportunities to win. In those later innings, we had guys on base, and just couldn’t get a timely hit. LSU got their timely hit.”
On the Championship matchup
“We both battled, and they got the last punch. It’s not over yet.”