LSU sweeps Missouri; Best start since 1986

[Information provided by: LSU Athletics]

A five-run third inning allowed LSU to erase a four-run deficit, and stellar relief pitching made it stand up as the Fighting Tigers (No. 2 USA Today/ESPN, No. 3 Baseball America, No. 4 Collegiate Baseball) completed a three-game Southeastern Conference sweep of Missouri with a 6-5 decision on Easter Sunday.

LSU (26-2 overall, 8-1 SEC) won its eighth consecutive game and will end the weekend tied with Vanderbilt for the SEC lead.

This was LSU's first conference series with Missouri (9-15, 2-7), which joined the SEC in July 2012. Until this weekend, the schools faced each other only three times, and not at all since 1987.

Trailing 5-1 entering the third, LSU immediately created trouble for Missouri starting pitcher Alec Rash when Alex Bregman led off with a ground ball single and Raph Rhymes walked, bringing up the team's home run leader, Mason Katz.

For the third time in as many games, Katz made Missouri pay on a high fastball, depositing one over the right-center field fence for the three-run home run which trimmed the margin to 5-4.

Reliever Keaton Steele walked Christian Ibarra before his defense betrayed him. Steele should have been out of the inning, but Missouri third baseman Shane Segovia misplayed a ground ball by JaCoby Jones, and right fielder Dane Opel dropped a fly ball by Ty Ross.

Instead of three outs and Missouri still ahead, LSU was still alive with one out and the bases loaded. Sean McMullen cashed in the gifts with a two-run single back through the box to put LSU on top again.

Four relievers, led by Brent Bonvillain, kept the scoreboard frozen at 6-5 the rest of the way.

Bonvillain worked 4 1/3 hitless, scoreless innings to earn the victory, improving to 2-0 on the campaign. He entered the game with two out in the third and worked through the seventh.

Joey Bourgeois retired the first two batters of the eighth before hitting Shane Segovia.

Closer Chris Cotton came in to face left-handed Logan Pearson, and the LSU southpaw struck out Pearson looking.

Case Munson led off the bottom of the ninth with a single under the glove of third baseman Ibarra, but he retired the next three batters for his second save of the series and eighth of the season.

Missouri was shut out 2-0 and 8-0 in the first two games of the series, but it broke through in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Kelly to tie the game at 1-1.

LSU starter Cody Glenn retired the first two batters in the Missouri second, but he loaded the bases by walking Segovia, allowing a single to Logan Pearson, and hitting Case Munson on the right knee.

Glenn hit the next two batters, Opel and Kelly, to force in a pair of runs and put Missouri in front for the first time in the series.

Reliever Kevin Berry gave up a two-run single to Jake Ivory before striking out Kendall Keeton on a pitch out of the strike zone.

The Tigers return to action with non-conference games Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at home versus Alcorn State, and Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Zephyr Field in Metairie vs. Southern Mississippi.

LSU hosts Kentucky (21-6, 6-3) next weekend in SEC play.