Tigers take longest game in SEC Tournament history
By Tiger Rag News Service
HOOVER, Ala. – LSU pinch hitter Jordan Romero lined an RBI single in the top of the 14th inning Thursday morning to provide the winning run as the seventh-ranked Tigers defeated top-ranked Florida, 5-3, in 14 innings in the SEC Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
The game, which began at 8:41 p.m. CT on Wednesday, was played in five hours and seven minutes, marking the longest contest in SEC Tournament history. The game ended at1:48 a.m. on Thursday.
LSU (41-17) advances to the winnners’ bracket to face Mississippi State at approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday. Florida (44-12) will face Alabama in an elimination game at approximately 1 p.m. Thursday.
The LSU-Mississippi State game will be televised by the SEC Network, and it can be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. Live audio and live stats wil be available at www.LSUsports.net.
LSU has now defeated No. 1 Florida three times within the past week. The Tigers won two of three games over the Gators to close the regular season last weekend in Baton Rouge.
LSU designated hitter Bryce Jordan led off the LSU 14th inning by reaching on a throwing error by Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie. Jordan was forced out at second on third baseman Chris Reid’s fielder’s choice grounder, but Reid advanced to second on a walk issued by Florida reliever Kirby Snead to centerfielder Brennan Breaux.
Snead struck out first baseman Greg Deichmann, but Romero, pinch hitting for catcher Michael Papierski, smacked a single into right field to score Reid with the go-ahead run. Romero had been hitless in his 18 previous at-bats prior to the game-winning single.
Second baseman Cole Freeman provided an insurance run for the Tigers with a flare into center field to score Breaux.
“I don’t even know how to describe it,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I could recap the whole game but there were so many ebbs and flows that I’m not sure describing it would do it justice. Suffice to say that just when you think your team shows you all that they can possibly show you, they reach inside and find something about themselves that just shows a level of determination and grit that is almost unsurpassed. A lesser team would have been so demoralized after losing the lead in the ninth inning. We just kept battling and battling.”
LSU erased a 2-0 deficit in the eighth capped by Jordan’s RBI single to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Florida, however, tied the game in the ninth on a two-out run-scoring single by second baseman Deacon Liput against LSU closer Hunter Newman.
LSU reliever Jesse Stallings (3-0) turned in the longest outing of his career to earn the win. Stallings entered the game in relief of Newman in the 10th and fired five shutout innings, allowing just two hits while throwing 64 pitches.
Right-hander Alex Lange gave LSU a quality start, working seven innings and limiting the Gators to two runs on five hits with three walks and a season-high 11 strikeouts.
“Jesse Stallings was remarkable and Romero came off the bench to get the big hit,” Mainieri said. “Without Newman pitching so well, Lange doing what he did, and without the clutch hits, we wouldn’t have been in that situation. It’s an amazing total team effort. I’m just happy it’s over. It only counts as one win but it sure feels like more than that.”
The Gators grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Lange, as designated hitter JJ Schwarz belted a run-scoring double and centerfielder Buddy Reed lined an RBI triple.
Florida starter A.J. Puk kept the Tigers off the scoreboard through the first seven innings before the Tigers broke through in the eighth with a three-run rally capped by Jordan’s go-ahead single.