Baseball Drops Series Finale with LSU 7-3



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- LSU second baseman Chris McGhee and center fielder Jared Mitchell had two hits each to lead the Tigers to a 7-3 series-clinching win over the University of Alabama Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The duo teamed up to break open a close game in the seventh inning and give LSU its seventh series win in the last nine meetings with the Crimson Tide.

McGhee (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 SB) and Mitchell (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 SB) combined for four hits, four runs scored, three RBI and five stolen bases in the win.

Clinging to a 4-3 lead, Mitchell laced an RBI double into the left field corner to score Steven Broschofsky giving LSU a 5-3 lead.  Broschofsky led off the inning with a triple to right-center field.  After Mitchell stole third base, McGhee beat out a squeeze bunt for an RBI single to score Mitchell from third and push the Tigers lead to 6-3.

The two-run inning came after Alabama loaded the bases in the sixth inning, but did not score.  Alabama stranded nine runners in the loss to LSU, with seven of those coming in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

LSU junior right-hander Jared Bradford pitched the final three innings for his fourth save of the season and second of the series. 

LSU (17-12-1, 3-5-1 SEC) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning off losing pitcher Brandon Belcher, who was making his first start on the mound since opening day. 

Michael Hollander and Blake Dean collected back-to-back one-out singles, before  Belcher walked Sean Ochinko to load the bases.  After Jordan Mayer struck out, LSU right fielder Steven Waguespack laced a two-strike triple into right center field to clear the bases and give the Tigers an early three-run lead.

Alabama starter Brandon Belcher (1-1) worked two innings, allowing three runs and three hits in his second start of the season.  Belcher had not pitched for Alabama since throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings opening day against Georgia State.  He missed his last six starts with a strained muscle in his left forearm.

The Crimson Tide loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning, but managed only one run.  Senior shortstop Greg Paiml reached on a throwing error by third baseman Buzzy Haydel to lead off the inning. 

After sophomore designated hitter Alex Avila popped out, sophomore left fielder Kent Matthes doubled over the head and off the glove of Jared Mitchell in center to put runners at second and third.  Junior first baseman Matt Bentley was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Sophomore catcher Ryan Rhoden followed with a ground out to short to score Paiml from third, before Vargas popped up to end the inning.

Bama closed the gap to 4-3 with two runs in the fifth inning.  Freshman third baseman Brandon May led off the inning with a triple off the wall in left center and scored on sophomore second baseman Jeff Texada's base hit to center.


Senior center fielder Emeel Salem reached on a fielder's choice that erased Texada at second base.  Avila followed with single that was fielded in shallow right field by McGhee at second base.  Salem scored on the RBI single and Avila took second on McGhee's wild throw to home plate.  Matthes was intentionally walked and Bentley flied out to center to end the inning.

The Crimson Tide missed out on its best chance to take the lead in the sixth inning as Paiml grounded out to third base, leaving the bases loaded.

LSU starter Ryan Byrd, making his first SEC start, held the Crimson Tide to three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings for his fourth win of the season.  Paul Bertuccini wriggled out of trouble in the sixth inning to preserve LSU's lead.

After the two-run seventh inning, LSU added a run in the ninth when McGhee walked, stole second and scored on Hollander's base hit to give LSU a 7-3 lead.

Avila led Alabama with three hits, while Texada added two hits in the loss.

Alabama will face UAB at Regions Park (formerly Hoover Met) Wednesday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m.  The Crimson Tide is on the road in SEC play next weekend to take on Vanderbilt in a three-game series in Nashville.

*Alabama has lost seven of its last nine regular season series to LSU, dating back to the 2000 season.  LSU's series win over Alabama was the Tigers first in Tuscaloosa since 2001.

*Senior Brandon Belcher (Ruston, La.) made his first appearance on the mound after missing the last six weeks with a strained muscle in his left forearm.  Belcher last pitched for the Crimson Tide on opening day when he shutout Georgia State on one hit through 5 2/3 innings with no walks and six strikeouts.  The LSU game marked Belcher's first SEC start since March 21, 2005 at Auburn.  He missed the entire 2006 season recovering from "Tommy John" surgery.
*Alabama allowed three runs in the top of the first inning and has been outscored 19-1 in the first two innings in its last three Sunday SEC games.  Tennessee held a 6-1 lead after two innings March 18 and Ole Miss held an 8-0 lead after two innings March 25.

*Senior center fielder Emeel Salem (Mountain Brook) was intentionally walked in the sixth inning to extend his on base streak to 43 consecutive games, dating back to the 2006 season.  He has reached base in all 30 games this year.  Salem went 0-for-4 and saw his team-best 10-game hitting streak come to an end Sunday.

*Sophomore right-hander Austin Hyatt (Marietta, Ga.) made his first appearance on the mound since March 10 as he worked 2 2/3 innings against LSU.  Hyatt allowed one run, two hits and added two strikeouts.

*Alabama has lost its last four Sunday games.