HOOVER, Ala. (WAFB) - LSU withstood an early barrage of runs by South Carolina to advance to the second round of the SEC Tournament with a win in a game that lasted past midnight.
The Tigers (35-22) came away with the 8-6 victory over the Gamecocks (28-27).
Cole Henry started on the mound for LSU after being out for a month with an injury. The coaches had hoped he would go three innings, he was pulled with two outs in the second. He gave up three runs in 1.2 innings of work. He also had three strikeouts. Matthew Beck relieved him and only finished out the inning.
Devin Fontenot entered in the third inning and was superb for the 4.1 innings he pitched. He allowed only one hit, while striking out five. He improved to 5-1 with the win. Todd Peterson held on to the lead by giving up just one run on one hit while striking out three batters. He picked up his third save of the season.
Josh Smith was 2-for-4, including a home run, with two RBI. He also crossed home plate three times.
Smith led off the LSU order in the first inning by absolutely smashing a solo home run into the right field woods to make it 1-0 early.
“That was a game of some ebb and flow,” said head coach Paul Mainieri. Josh Smith got us off to a good start (with a home run) after Cole (Henry) pitched us out of a first-inning jam. I felt good about everything. I thought Cole was throwing the ball extremely well. I thought we were going to play really well and then the second inning was kind of Murphy’s Law; they throw up the five-spot and this isn’t exactly how we had it planned. But I knew our guys wouldn’t quit and really the key to the game was Devin Fontenot. He just kind of took the team and put us on his shoulders.”
South Carolina was explosive at the plate in the top of the second. The Gamecocks took the lead on a two-run double to left center field. They then scored two more runs on two singles to make it 5-1.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, Cade Beloso hit a single to right field that scored two runs to put the Tigers down only 5-3.
LSU then had a big fourth inning. A single by Smith sent Hal Hughes home. After a double by Antoine Duplantis that moved Smith to third, the senior shortstop slid home safely on a wild pitch. Later, Duplantis scored on a single through the right side by Daniel Cabrera to put the Tigers up 6-5.
The runs continued for LSU in the fifth inning. A single to first base by Duplantis scored Hughes and a single to center field by Beloso plated Brandt Broussard to make 8-5.
In the top of the eighth, a sac fly plated a run for South Carolina to make it 8-6.
LSU will face Mississippi State at 8 p.m. Wednesday. South Carolina was eliminated from the tournament.