Gage Jump and Josh Pearson lead LSU baseball to dominant SEC Tournament win over Georgia

Gage Jump threw a season-high 105 pitches to help LSU past No. 6 seed Georgia in the single-elimination round of the SEC Tournament. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

LSU baseball might’ve just put itself into an NCAA regional.

After starting the season with a 3-12 conference record, the Tigers managed to fight to the 13-win mark to give themselves a shot at the postseason. But there were 10 other SEC schools with at least 13 conference wins, inducing four with the same record as the Tigers. The SEC Tournament was a way for them to separate from the pack.

They did just that with a 9-1 win over No. 6 seed Georgia to make it out of the single elimination round of the tournament. Georgia sat at No. 6 in the NCAA RPI and the win will lift LSU inside the top 30 in RPI. No SEC school with at least 13 conference wins and an RPI inside the top 30 has missed the postseason since the SEC expanded to 14 schools.

“I really believe we’re one of the best teams in the country, we’re just playing all the other ones,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “Of our ten league series, eight of those teams are going to be in the NCAA Tournament along with us. Nobody else does that.”

LSU’s record moves to 37-20 on the year while Georgia falls to 39-15 and is eliminated from the SEC Tournament. The win is LSU’s 91st in the SEC Tournament, the most of any school. The Tigers won their opening game in the SEC Tournament for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.

Gage Jump started the game for LSU and put in an elite outing against one of the best offenses in the country. He went seven innings on a season-high 105 pitches and allowed just four hits and one run while recording seven strikeouts. He didn’t let the SEC Player of the Year Charlie Condon reach base in three at-bats.

“Once [Jump] got past Mississippi State and Arkansas, I think he’s been elite ever since,” Johnson said. “I think he’s pitched like one of the best pitchers in the country and there’s no doubt in my mind that he is.”

LSU’s offense left 13 runners stranded on base, but still managed nine runs on 14 hits. Josh Pearson led the team with three RBI and the Tigers drew seven walks on the day.

“[Pearson] is a quality at-bat machine,” Johnson said. “He just moves our offense. He might not be your prototypical SEC four hitter, but because he can do what he can with runners on base is why I have him placed in the lineup where I do.”

LSU jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The Tigers started the game with two singles and a walk to load the bases before a Pearson two-RBI single scored the first runs of the game.

They added to their lead in the second inning thanks again to a pair of singles from Michael Braswell III and Tommy White. Jared Jones drew another walk to load the bases again for an RBI from Pearson, this time on a ground out.

Georgia cut into the deficit in the bottom of the second. A single and a walk put two runners on, and Fernando Gonzalez singled to left field to make it a 3-1 game.

The next couple of innings were scoreless until the fifth inning. Pearson started the frame with a double and advanced to third on a fly out. Steven Milam hit an RBI single to left field to score a run and Mac Bingham followed with a single of his own. Ashton Larson drew a walk to load the bases again and Alex Milazzo hit an RBI single to score another run. Braswell hit into a double play to end the threat though.

The Tigers added an extra insurance run in the seventh. Larson and Milazzo drew a pair of walks with two outs gone and Braswell hit an RBI single to center field to bring the score to 6-1.

Griffin Herring came in for Jump in the bottom of the eighth inning. He found himself in trouble after walking the first two batters he faced, but a double play and a strikeout sent the game to the ninth inning with the five-run lead still intact.

Milam added to that lead in the ninth with a no-doubt blast to right field. Bingham was hit by a pitch and Jake Brown singled to bring him to third. Milazzo had an RBI single to score Bingham. White followed with an RBI single of his own to make it 9-1.

Two singles put a pair of Bulldogs on base in the bottom of the ninth with one out gone, but a double play ended the game.

LSU will play tomorrow against No. 3 seed Kentucky. It’ll be another 9:30 a.m. start time for the Tigers. If they lose, they’ll play on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and a win will see them play Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

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Will Nickel

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