LSU players watch the action from the dugout.
Last Modified: Monday, April 14, 2014 12:18 PMBATON ROUGE — LSU had been pretty generous all afternoon.
So it only made sense that the Tigers would come up with a winning hit that almost seemed designed not to offend the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks.
“It doesn’t matter how,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.
So Mark Laird, facing a two-out, 3-2 count, reached out and poked the most polite walk-off single you ever saw to give the Tigers a 5-4 victory.
Laird’s little flare nestled into no-man’s land down the third-base line to easily score pinch-runner Jake Fraley for LSU’s seventh consecutive win and clinch the Southeastern Conference weekend series.
“I was waiting on a fastball, just trying to punch it into left,” said Laird, who said he hadn’t had a walk-off hit since his senior year at Ouachita Christian High School. “It felt great.”
It was LSU’s first walk-off win of the season.
The Tigers (27-8-1, 8-5-1 SEC) will go for their second straight conference sweep at 1 p.m. today with Kyle Bouman (3-1, 2.23 ERA) on the mound. Arkansas (21-15, 6-8) will counter with Chris Oliver (3-3, 1.99), who Mainieri said is attracting a lot of pro scouts as the Razorbacks’ top pro prospect.
“We overcame a lot today but came through when we had to,” Mainieri said. “I’m not complaining.
“It wasn’t the most crisply played game we’ve had. Probably the worst defensive game we’ve had all year.”
The Tigers committed three errors, which didn’t include two other defensive miscues that didn’t show up in the boxscore, and their usual ration of baserunning hijinks.
“But who’s perfect?” Mainieri said. “The resiliency is what’s important.”
LSU got two runs in the second on Christian Ibarra’s solo home run and Chris Chinea’s RBI double, then added two more in the fourth on light-hitting Kramer Robertson’s two-run double.
But Arkansas, with starter Jalen Beeks settling in, seemed to have all the momentum late. The Razorbacks tied the score in the seventh on two errors by Chinea, then got two runners on with one out in the top of the ninth.
“It did seem that way,” Laird said.
But LSU closer Joe Broussard, who got the save Friday night, came in to get the final two outs on a ground out and a strike out.
Broussard, the sixth Tigers pitcher after freshman Jared Poché gave LSU 52⁄3 solid innings, got the win.
“Joe came in and did his thing,” Laird said. “That got the (stadium) to start rocking. It got us pumped.”
So they dinked the Razorbacks for the victory.
Chinea led off the bottom of the ninth with what Mainieri called a “clutch walk” and, after Fraley came in to pinch run.
Andrew Stevenson sacrificed him to second. Robertson popped out before Sean McMullen was intentionally walked, bringing up Laird to face Arkansas closer Michael Gunn, who hadn’t given up an earned run all season.
“I knew Mark could hit that guy,” Mainieri said.
And he did.