Bullpen, Slam Give Baseball Series Clincher, 8-4
BATON ROUGE -- Third-ranked LSU erupted for six runs in the eighth inning Saturday night to erase a 4-2 deficit and post an 8-4 win over Georgia in Alex Box Stadium.
With the victory, the Tigers (35-9, 14-6 SEC) clinched the series over the Bulldogs (24-20, 8-12 SEC). First pitch of Game 3 of the series is set for 1 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium. Freshman right-hander Aaron Nola will take the mound for the Tigers, and Georgia will counter with freshman right-hander Luke Crumley.
LSU enters Sunday's game tied with Kentucky for first place in the overall SEC standings. The Tigers hold a four-game lead over Ole Miss and Arkansas in the SEC Western Division.
Rightfielder Mason Katz launched a grand slam - the first of his career - to highlight the Tigers' eighth-inning rally. The bases were loaded with nobody out after designated hitter Jordy Snikeris and second baseman JaCoby Jones lined consecutive doubles, and centerfielder Arby Fields was hit by a pitch from reliever Blake Dieterich.
Following Katz's slam, leftfielder Raph Rhymes connected on his third home run of the season to give the Tigers a 7-4 lead. After shortstop Austin Nola grounded out, first baseman Tyler Moore ripped a double to right, he scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error by the catcher.
"It looked like 'Gorilla Ball' made its return to Alex Box Stadium with those home runs," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "I don't think I've ever heard the crowd here as loud as it was tonight in the eighth inning. We started out with a good first inning offensively, and then we did very little until late in the game.
"The double by Snikeris to start the inning was huge, JaCoby followed with a big hit, and that set the stage for Mason and Raph. Joey Bourgeois kept us in the game with a tremendous outing, and we finally were able to break through."
LSU's bullpen was stellar in relief of starter Ryan Eades and did not allow a run in four innings of work. The sophomore starter pitched five innings, allowed seven hits, four runs (two earned) one walk with one strikeout.
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Bourgeois (2-2) earned the win in relief as he entered the game in the sixth inning and struck out three in three scoreless innings of work. Junior right-hander Nick Goody struck out the side in the ninth inning to preserve the win.
Georgia starter Michael Palazzone left the game after the fourth inning due to an injury. He permitted six hits and two runs (two earned). Dieterich (3-3) was charged with the loss after allowing four runs (four earned), including Katz's grand slam, in the eighth inning.
Katz finished his day with three hits and five RBI. Jones notched two hits and scored twice in the leadoff position, and Rhymes and Moore each had two hits and a run.
Georgia's Curt Powell led off the game with a solo home run to left field. Kyle Farmer knocked a oneout single and Hunter Cole reached base on an error. Both runners advanced on a throwing error, and Conor Welton plated Farmer with a sac fly to left to give Georgia the early 2-0 lead.
The Tigers answered with two runs in the bottom half of the opening frame. Jones led off the inning with a single and proceeded to steal second. Katz's RBI double scored Jones, and Rhymes' single advanced Katz to third. Nola tied the game with a sac fly to center.
Georgia regained the lead in the top of the third. Eades hit Welton , who immediately stole second. Peter Verdin plated Welton with a single over Jones's glove at second. Verdin advanced to third on an errant pick off attempt and scored on Brett DeLoach's RBI single.
Catcher Ty Ross made a fantastic diving catch behind home plate to help the Tigers strand two Bulldogs in scoring position in the top of the sixth.
LSU 8, Georgia 4 (Apr 28, 2012 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Georgia............. 202 000 000 - 4 7 1 (24-20, 8-12 SEC)
LSU................... 200 000 06X - 8 11 3 (35-9, 14-6 SEC)
Pitchers: Georgia - Michael Palazzone; Pete Nagel(5); Blake Dieterich(8) and Joey Delmonico;
Brandon Stephens. LSU - Ryan Eades; Joey Bourgeois(6); Nick Goody(9) and Ty Ross.
Win-Joey Bourgeois(2-2) Loss-Blake Dieterich(3-3) T-2:55 A-11676
HR UGA - Curt Powell (2).
HR LSU - Mason Katz (8); Raph Rhymes (3).
Actual Attendance: 8,607
Eades faced 2 batters in the 6th.
Nagel faced 2 batters in the 8th.