By Tiger Rag News Service
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Catcher Michael Papierski lined a run-scoring single in the top of the 11th inning Saturday to lift 11th-ranked LSU to a 4-3 win over Alabama at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Saturday’s win completed a sweep of the SEC series for the Tigers, who improved to 30-15 overall and 13-8 in conference play. Alabama dropped to 15-29 overall and 2-19 in league games.
The victory was LSU’s first in extra innings this season. LSU’s only other extra-inning game of the year was a 5-4, 15-inning loss to New Orleans on March 15.
The Tigers will open a three-game SEC series at 7 p.m. CT Friday against South Carolina in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. The game will be carried by affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network, and the broadcast may also be heard at www.LSUsports.net/live. Friday’s game may be viewed online on SEC Network +, accessible at WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app.
“We knew coming into this game that we would have our work cut out for us,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, “and Alabama’s pitching was outstanding throughout the game. We had excellent relief pitching ourselves, and we were finally able take the lead on a tremendous swing by Michael Papierski. He played so well over the course of the entire series both offensively and behind the plate.
“I’m so proud of our kids because earning an SEC sweep on the road is extremely difficult to do. This is a big week for the players with final exams coming up, and then we’ll look forward to playing back at Alex Box next weekend.”
Senior right-hander Hunter Newman (1-1) was credited with the win as he worked the final two innings, allowing no runs on one hit with one walk and two strikeouts.
LSU also received superb relief efforts from right-hander Caleb Gilbert and from left-hander Nick Bush, who blanked the Tide over a combined 4.2 innings with one hit and three strikeouts.
Alabama reliever Davis Vainer (0-3) was charged with the loss as he surrendered one run on three hits in 3.1 innings with four walks and five strikeouts.
With the game tied at 3-3, shortstop Kramer Robertson drew a walk from Vainer, and after designated hitter Jordan Romero flied to right, leftfielder Antoine Duplantis singled to right, advancing Robertson to third base.
Vainer fell behind with a 3-0 count to Papierski, who received the green light from Mainieri and ripped a single off first baseman Cody Henry’s glove into right field, scoring Robertson with the go-ahead run.
“I got a fastball and put a barrel on it,” Papierski said about the game-winning hit. “Today was a big team win, and hopefully it gives us momentum heading into next weekend.”
Newman struck out pinch hitter Tanner DeVinny to start the bottom of the 11th, but catcher Alex Webb produced a one-out single. Newman, however, retired leftfielder Sam Finnerty and third baseman Connor Short on pop-ups to Robertson at shortstop to end the game.
LSU third baseman Josh Smith led off the game with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Cole Freeman, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored when rightfielder Greg Deichmann launched his 15th homer of the season to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Alabama responded with two runs in the bottom of the first against LSU starter Eric Walker, as leftfielder Chandler Taylor lifted a sacrifice fly, and Henry delivered a run-scoring double.
Alabama took it first lead of the series in the fourth when Henry led off with a single and later scored on a double-play grounder by Finnerty.
LSU tied the contest in the seventh when Romero lined an RBI single to score Robertson, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and stolen second base.
Walker pitched 4.1 innings to start the game for LSU, allowing three runs on seven hits with one walk and no strikeouts. Alabama starter Jake Walters pitched effectively after allowing the first-inning homer to Deichmann, working a total of 7.1 innings and allowing three runs on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts.