Last Modified: Monday, April 01, 2013 10:47 AM
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri finally solved LSU’s starting pitching Sunday. But, the Tigers’ bullpen came to the rescue and Mazon Katz’ third home run of the weekend rallied LSU to a 6-5 victory over Mizzou and a sweep of the SEC series.
LSU (26-2, 8-1 SEC), which had to come back from an early 5-1 deficit, leads the SEC West and remains tied with Vanderbilt atop the overall conference standings.
“We were able to sneak out a victory,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said “In this league, you’re grateful whenever you get victories so you don’t over-analyze them.”
It didn’t take much analysis beyond relief pitcher Brent Bonvillain.
“Brent was really the key to the game for us,” Mainieri said. “He came in and carved them up and gave us a chance to win the game.”
Bonvillain threw 41⁄3 hitless innings after coming on for the final out of the third, nursing the 6-5 lead into the eighth for setup man Joey Bourgeois. Bonvillain, who got the win to improve to 2-0, retired the last 12 batters he faced.
Bourgeois got the first two outs of the eighth before hitting a batter. Chris Cotton came on for the final out, then allowed a leadoff single in the ninth — the only hit the LSU bullpen allowed over the final six innings — but retired the next three for his eighth save.
Missouri (9-15, 2-7) scored its first run of the weekend in the first inning off LSU starter Cody Glenn, then took a 5-1 lead in the second that chased him.
Glenn got the first two outs of the second before giving up a walk and a single, then hit three straight batters, two of which forced in runs. Reliever Kevin Berry gave up a two-run single to Jake Ivory to stake Mizzou to a 5-1 lead.
It didn’t last long.
Freshman Alex Bregman singled and Raph Rhymes walked to open the top of the third, and Katz followed with his SEC-leading 13th home run of the season, a three-run, opposite-field shot into the jet stream that just cleared the rightfield wall. A Missouri error kept the inning alive for Sean McMullen’s two-run single and a 6-5 LSU lead. Katz, who leads the nation in RBIs, also had an RBI single in the first.
But what looked like a wild game quickly settled down and turned into a battle of bullpens.
“Sometimes I just scratch my head and say, ‘How did we win?’ ” Mainieri said. “Our starting pitcher didn’t make it through the second inning and I think we had one good swing in the last six innings. Their pitching really dominated us (late). But somehow we find a way to win.
“Really, the key to the game was our relief pitching — shutting them out for six or seven innings, and we made some good plays defensively.”