LSU keeps rolling in SEC Tournament

Published 10:18 am Friday, May 22, 2015

By The Associated Press

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — When it comes to the Southeastern Conference Tournament, LSU is always one of the teams to beat.

These days, no one can.

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LSU scored six runs over the first two innings to take an early lead and beat Arkansas 10-5 on Thursday night to advance to the SEC Tournament semifinals.

Top-seeded LSU (48-9) doesn’t have to play again until Saturday, while Arkansas (35-21) fell into the losers’ bracket and will face Florida today.

The Tigers have won nine consecutive games in the SEC Tournament since 2013. They’re going for their third straight championship, and sixth in eight years.

LSU has also won 11 of its last 12 meetings against Arkansas.

“Coach puts a lot of pressure on us at practice, so when we get into stressful situations in games, we’re ready for them,” said LSU shortstop Alex Bregman, who drove in three runs, scored another, and stole two bases. “If we just keep performing well under pressure and keep getting clutch hits and making clutch pitches, we’ll continue being successful.”

This LSU team has earned a reputation for offense, and with good reason. It has scored 19 runs in two tournament games, and at least six in each of its last 11 games. It came out swinging Thursday night.

The Tigers scored four runs in the first and two in the second, chasing Arkansas starter James Teague (4-4) after just two innings. LSU had 12 hits and was helped by six Arkansas errors. It also had four stolen bases.

“I think Arkansas’ errors were the result of the pressure that we put on them,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “We put a lot of pressure on them with our speed and the running game. I thought our team’s speed and our bat-handling ability were big factors early in the game. We put pressure on them, they made some mistakes, and we took advantage of them.”

The Razorbacks briefly made the game interesting by scoring four runs in the second to pull within 6-4, but LSU added two runs in the fourth and two more in the seventh to take a comfortable lead.

Jake Fraley and Andrew Stevenson each had an RBI single, and Bregman hit sacrifice flies in the fourth and seventh innings.

Russell Reynolds (6-0) earned the win on the mound for LSU, throwing 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. He was the second of six pitchers used by the Tigers.

In two games in the tournament, LSU has used 13 pitchers. Reynolds’ outing was the longest any of them have thrown.

Florida 11, Auburn 2

Josh Tobias went 4-for-5 with two RBIs, and Florida knocked Auburn out of the SEC Tournament.

The Gators (41-16) scored eight runs on seven hits in the third inning, four of them unearned, in the elimination game.

Peter Alonso was 3-for-3 and drove in three runs while Mike Rivera had a two-run double in the big inning against the Tigers (35-24).

Texas A&M 6, Vanderbilt 1

Blake Allemand hit two home runs and Matt Kent threw a complete game to lead Texas A&M over Vanderbilt.

Allemand hit a two-run homer in the second inning and a solo shot in the fourth to help the Aggies (46-10) build an early 6-0 lead. The left-handed Kent (7-1) did the rest, holding the Commodores (40-18) down to just one run on four hits.

Texas A&M won’t play again until Saturday, while Vanderbilt will face Alabama today in an elimination game.

Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer (11-2), the SEC’s Pitcher of the Year, took the loss. He gave up three home runs, and six runs over five innings.

Alabama 4, Missouri 3

Will Haynie’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the seventh inning helped Alabama beat Missouri (30-28) in an SEC Tournament elimination game on Thursday.

The Crimson Tide (32-28) also got a two-run, two-out single from Cody Henry in the sixth to rally from a 3-1 deficit. Thomas Burrows retired the side in the ninth for his seventh save, getting two strikeouts.