LSU’s Mainieri wins 1,400th game

Tigers rally for six runs in 9th inning, beat Tennessee 9-7

Staff Reports

<p>In this June 1, 2017 file photo, LSU head coach Paul Mainieri reacts to the crowd after defeating UNC Wilmington at the Baton Rouge Regional of the NCAA college baseball tournament in Baton Rouge, La. LSU is now two victories from the program’s 18th trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Starting Saturday, June 10, the Tigers host Mississippi State in a best-of-three NCAA super regional. </p>AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

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<p class="p1">BATON ROUGE — A six-run ninth inning can cancel out a host of baseball sins.

<p class="p1">LSU proved that Sunday when Daniel Cabrera’s 3-run homer capped the unlikely, last-gasp six pack as the Tigers rallied for a 9-7 victory over Tennessee to complete a weekend sweep of the SEC series.

<p class="p1">LSU (24-13, 9-6 SEC) trailed 7-3 going into the bottom of the ninth.

<p class="p1">It was head coach Paul Mainieri’s 1,400th victory in his college career.

<p class="p1">But he’s never had one quite like this.

<p class="p1">“It’s just hard to put into words what we just witnessed today,” he said.

<p class="p1">The Tigers, who trailed 7-3 going to the bottom of the ninth, had won only one game since 1972 when trailing by four or more heading into the last inning —  a streak of 303 games — and in that on lone victory  in 2016 against Arkansas (the famed “rally possum” game) they only tied in the ninth and won in the 10th.

<p class="p1">This time Cabrera took out all the suspense with a towering, no-doubter  home run to right field for LSU’s first walk-off home run since ince Chris Sciambra in the 2015 Baton Rouge Super Regional to beat UL-Lafayette.

<p class="p1">“We weren’t having a great game,” Mainieri said. “Things weren’t going our way, and then gosh, a never-say-die attitude can take you a long ways. What a special moment.”

<p class="p1">The Tigers fell behind 4-0 early but cut the gap to 4-3 in the fifth before a rash of defensive mishaps — including three errors by third baseman Jake Slaughter — helped Tennessee regain a 7-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

<p class="p1">Four of the Vols’ runs were unearned and the Tigers also issued six walks.

<p class="p1">But it didn’t matter after the epic rally.

<p class="p1">Chris Reid led off the bottom of the ninth inning as a pinch hitter and reached on a Tennessee error.  Beau Jordan followed with a single to put runners on the corners and beat an errant throw to second when Zach Watson reached safely on a ground ball that scored Reid.

<p class="p1">The Volunteers lifted starter Will Neely for Zach Linginfelter, who loaded the bases after hitting Antoine Duplantis with a pitch.

<p class="p1">Second baseman Austin Bain, who was warming up in the bullpen to pitch if LSU could tie it, then came in to rip a double to right-center on the first pitch he saw to drive in two runs and put the tying run at third base.

<p class="p1">Tennessee went back to the bullpen for right-hander Andrew Schultz, who got a strike out for the first out of the inning. But after taking the first pitch for a ball, Cabrera launched his game-winning, 3-run blast to right field.

<p class="p1">“I got all of it,” Cabrera said.

<p class="p1">Taylor Peterson (1-0) the last of seven LSU pitchers in Mainieri’s Sunday-by-committee mound plan, got the win after needing just one pitch to close the top of the ninth. The Tigers will travel to New Orleans Wednesday for a midweek contest against Tulane.

<p class="p1" style="text-align: center;"><span class="s1"><strong>LSU </strong></span><span class="s1"><strong>9, </strong></span><span class="s1"><strong>Tennessee </strong></span><span class="s1"><strong>7</strong></span>

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