Auburn edges LSU, 4-3
Game-tying run becomes game-ending out on questionable call at the plate
AUBURN, Ala. - Centerfielder Ryan Tella’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday night provided the go-ahead run for Auburn, which withstood a ninth-inning LSU rally and posted a 4-3 win in Game 1 of the SEC weekend series at Plainsman Park.
Auburn improved to 14-8 overall and 3-1 in the SEC, while LSU dropped to 17-5 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
The teams will meet in Game 2 of the series at 3 p.m. CT Saturday. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Eades will start on the mound for LSU, while Auburn will counter with sophomore left-hander Will Kendall.
Tella’s two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the eighth against LSU reliever Nick Goody broke a 3-3 tie. However, LSU staged a rally in the ninth that nearly tied the game again.
Auburn reliever Slade Smith retired catcher Ty Ross and third baseman Tyler Hanover for the first two outs in the ninth, but shortstop Austin Nola doubled off of the left-field wall to extend the inning.
Auburn closer Justin Bryant faced LSU first baseman Grant Dozar, who hit a hard grounder to second baseman Creede Simpson, whose low throw could not be handled by first baseman Garrett Cooper. Arby Fields, running for Nola at second, attempted to score on the miscue, but Cooper fired to home plate, where catcher Blake Austin applied the tag on Fields to end the game on a very close play.
“Obviously, it’s a very difficult loss, but it was another extremely competitive game that is so common in our league,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I thought both teams came through with big pitches and big hits in clutch situations, and it appeared we had tied the game in the ninth. We have to put this game behind us and focus on evening the series tomorrow.”
Smith (1-3) was credited with the win as he worked 1.1 innings, allowing one hit with one walk. LSU reliever Kurt McCune (1-3), the fifth of six LSU pitchers, was charged with the loss as he allowed one run on one hit in 0.2 inning.
LSU starter Kevin Gausman worked five innings, surrendering two runs on six hits with five walks and eighth strikeouts. Auburn starter Derek Varnadore worked into the eighth inning and gave up three runs (one earned) on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
Auburn took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning against LSU starter Kevin Gausman when third baseman Zach Alvord delivered a two-out, bases-loaded single to score two runs.
LSU tied the game in the sixth with a pair of unearned runs as rightfielder Mason Katz produced a sacrifice fly and leftfielder Raph Rhymes ripped an RBI single.
Bryant, who was also the designated hitter, gave Auburn 3-2 lead in the bottom of the seven with a two-out RBI single, but LSU tied the game in the top of the eighth on a solo homer by second baseman JaCoby Jones, his first dinger of the season.
Auburn 4, LSU 3 (Mar 23, 2012 at Auburn, Ala.)
LSU……………….. 000 002 010 - 3 7 1 (17-5, 2-2 SEC)
Auburn………….. 000 200 11X - 4 10 3 (14-8, 3-1 SEC)
Pitchers: LSU - Kevin Gausman; Joe Broussard(6); Chris Cotton(6); Nick Rumbelow(7);
Kurt McCune(8); Nick Goody(8) and Ty Ross.
Auburn - Derek Varnadore; Slade Smith(8); Justin Bryant(9) and Caleb Bowen; Blake Austin.
Win-Slade Smith(1-3) Save-Justin Bryant(3) Loss-Kurt McCune(1-3) T-3:04 A-3349
HR LSU - JaCoby Jones (1).
Broussard faced 1 batter in the 6th.