LSU outlasts Alabama in 14 innings
BATON ROUGE — Third baseman Grant Dozar blasted a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 14th inning, as No.6 LSU topped Alabama, 6-5, to complete the series sweep Sunday afternoon in Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (30-6, 11-4) swept the Crimson Tide (22-15, 5-10) for the first time since 2002. The 14-inning game was LSU’s longest contest since a 15-inning match with UNO at Zephyr Field in Metairie, La., in 2008.
Sophomore right-hander Matty Ott (1-0) earned the victory after throwing seven innings of relief, the longest outing of his career, while allowing two runs on only four hits. Ott surrendered the two runs in the eighth, his first inning of relief, and controlled the game in extras as he held the Tide scoreless through the final six frames.
Dozar’s game-winning homer was his first dinger of the season. The sophomore from Morgan City, La., also tied the game earlier in the ninth with an RBI single that eventually sent the game into extra innings. Center fielder Leon Landry also had a stellar day at the plate as he went 4-for-6 with a double and two runs scored.
“I can’t say enough about the way our players competed today and throughout the whole series,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “As a coach, it makes me very proud to see the effort and determination that we showed all weekend. Today was a great game that neither team deserved to lose. We have such great respect for Alabama and its program — they fought just as hard as we did, we were just one swing better today.”
Alabama got out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning when first baseman Clay Jones lined a two-run homer to right field with two outs. The homer was Jones’ ninth of the season and his fourth in the last seven games. The Tigers cut the lead to 2-1 in the second when Leon Landry led off the inning with a single and later scored when Matt Gaudet grounded into a double play with no outs and Landry on third.
The Crimson Tide extended their lead to 3-1 in the third when Josh Rutledge roped an RBI single. LSU responded in the bottom of the frame with a solo home run by Mikie Mahtook to make the score 3-2. LSU starter Chris Matulis held the Tide scoreless through the next 3.2 innings before Paul Bertuccini forced a fly out to end the seventh. Matulis had an impressive outing, throwing 6.2 innings and allowing only three runs on five hits with three strikeouts.
After a hit-and-run single by Landry advanced Gibbs to third, Gaudet poked an infield groundout that allowed Gibbs to score, tying the game at 3-3 in the seventh.
Pinch hitter David Kindred delivered an RBI single in the eighth inning to break the tie, and the next batter Andrew Miller executed a perfect sacrifice bunt with Jake Smith on third to increase Alabama’s lead to 5-3. The Tigers pulled within one run at 5-4 in the eighth when Mahtook was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored when Alabama second baseman Ross Wilson misplayed a Blake Dean ground ball that found its way to the outfield.
Leon Landry led off the ninth with a single through the left side and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Hanover. After Matt Gaudet ripped a single to right, there were runners on first and third with one out. The next batter, Dozar laced a single to right, scoring Landry and knotting the game at 5-5. Alabama starter Jimmy Nelson exited the game after 8.1 innings giving way to reliever Nathan Kilcrease (2-1). Kilcrease struck out Johnny Dishon before retiring Mahtook to end the LSU rally and force extra innings.