Last Modified: Monday, March 20, 2017 10:29 AM
BATON ROUGE — There won’t be a mad rush to make an instructional video of LSU’s 7-6 victory over Georgia Sunday.
But head coach Paul Mainieri isn’t complaining after the Tigers completed a weekend sweep of the Bulldogs.
It was the start of the SEC season, and no time to be dickering with aesthetics.
“Welcome to the SEC,” Mainieri said. “Nothing comes easy in this game. It was a grind today.
“But you earn everything you get. The whole idea is to get the last out before other team ties it.”
LSU cut it pretty close.
By hook and crook and mostly Georgia wildness, the Tigers took a 7-4 lead into the ninth, somehow massaging the game into the hands of bullpen closer Caleb Gilbert.
Georgia promptly got the first three batters on, two of them scored and the tying run was on third when Gilbert struck out clean up hitter Michael Curry to end the game.
“Fortunately for us, Caleb made some really good pitches at the end,” Mainieri said. “The three strikes he threw to Curry were his best pitches, as good a pitches as you can make ... against a very tough hitter.”
They were a rarity this day, although the Tigers (16-5, 3-0 SEC) got another solid start from freshman Eric Walker (3-0), who gave up three runs on five hits while striking out eight.
“I thought Eric Walker was outstanding,” Mainieri said.
Walker gave up a 2-run homer to Will Proctor in the fifth, but did a good job to wiggle out of the sixth giving up only one run.
Georgia out-hit LSU 9-7, somewhat offset by five walks and five hit batters — LSU hit three.
The Tigers scored two of their runs on bases-loaded walks, while LSU returned the favor in the seventh when reliever Zack Hess walked a batter to load the bases, and then hit one on a 1-2 pitch to pull the Bulldogs to within 5-4.
“It makes for an ugly baseball game,” Mainieri said. “I don’t even enjoy watching that as a coach. But credit goes to our players, they were very disciplined at the plate, they were very patient.”
Georgia also made four errors while the Tigers had none ?— error-free, in fact, for the entire weekend.
“Sometimes the bats are there (and) the balls will fall,” shortstop Kramer Robertson said. “But if you play defense, you’ll always have a chance.”
That came in handy to get out of the seventh inning allowing only the one run when third baseman Josh Smith snagged a hard line drive and doubled a runner off second to end the inning.
“We were very, very fortunate,” Mainieri said. “Part of it was a good play. If that ball goes through, they take the lead. A lot of good fortune, and it was a terrific play, too.”
Georgia wasn’t as fortunate in the bottom of the inning as the Tigers pushed across two runs — which turned out to be the difference on just one hit.
Beau Jordan, who had an RBI single in the fifth, walked with two outs in the seventh, took second on a wild pitch and scored when Bulldog shortstop Cam Shepherd threw wildly to first on a routine ground ball by Robertson. Robertson then scored on Cole Freeman’s single for a 7-4 lead.
The game in a nutshell was the sixth when Georgia reliever Tucker Bradley hit the first three batters to set up Greg Deichmann’s sacrifice fly.
But that was all the Tigers got.
For the weekend, Georgia hit 12 LSU batters, none delivered with any particular malice.
“I’m just glad we got out of here alive,” Mainieri said. “Fortunately nobody got hurt, but it also contributed to our winning.
“Overall, we found a way to win, and I’m happy with that.”