Saturday, April 28, 2012
Rapid Reaction: LSU 8, Georgia 4
By David Helman
The eighth inning was once again kind to LSU (35-9, 14-6) in its weekend series with Georgia. Quick thoughts from the Tigers' series-clinching win.
Overview: Similar to the Friday opener, both offenses jumped out to a fast start. The Bulldogs (24-20, 8-12) opened the game with a 2-0 lead after leadoff hitter Curt Powell took the second pitch of the evening deep for a home run, followed by a sacrifice fly from left fielder Conor Welton. The Tigers managed three hits of their own in the first frame, with Mason Katz doubling to score JaCoby Jones, followed by an Austin Nola sacrifice fly to tie the score.
LSU settled into a funk from the second inning to the seventh, however, as the Tiger lineup knocked just three more hits in those five frames. The Bulldogs didn't set the world on fire themselves -- they had seven hits on the night. But Peter Verdin and Brett DeLoach did just enough to grab the lead in the third inning, as they each knocked an RBI single to take a 4-2 lead.
Turning point: It looked like LSU might not be able to overcome the Georgia combo of Michael Palazzone and Pete Nagel, who pitched four inning and three innings, respectively, until the Tigers put together a monstrous eighth inning for the second night in a row.
Jordy Snikeris opened the inning with a double down the left field line, and Jones put runners on second and third with no outs when he hit a two-bagger of his own. Georgia closer Blake Dieterich (3-3) replaced Nagel after Jones' hit, but didn't fare any better. Dieterich plunked Arby Fields on the second pitch of his outing to load the bases with no outs.
That brought up Katz, who delivered the win with one swing of his bat -- a far-gone grand slam to give him five RBI on the night and put the Tigers up, 6-4. Raph Rhymes, who had a ho-hum, 2-of-4 night at the plate, put an exclamation point on Katz's slam with a homer of his own to give LSU back-to-back shots.
The rally didn't end there, as Tyler Moore laced a one-out double. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error from UGA catcher Brandon Stephens.
The Tigers' five-hit, six-run eighth took the save opportunity away from closer Nick Goody. But that hardly mattered to Goody, who struck out the side to preserve the lead and get the win.
Key player: Katz was grand, if you'll excuse the pun. The junior went 3-of-5 on the night with his first career grand slam highlighting the fantastic five RBI. He also crossed the plate for two runs scored.
Key stat: Joey Bourgeois (2-2) earned the win in a relief performance for Ryan Eades. Bourgeois pitched three innings of hitless ball with three strikeouts to prevent the Bulldogs from building on their lead.
Miscellaneous: The SEC scoreboard cooperated with LSU in a big way on Saturday night. The win allowed the Tigers to preserve their four-game lead in the SEC West, and Vanderbilt defeated Kentucky to tie LSU with the Wildcats for first place in the conference.
Up next: LSU goes for the sweep Sunday at 1 p.m.