HOOVER, Ala. - Blake Dean drove in three runs and Ryan Byrd pitched seven strong innings to lift LSU to a 6-2 victory over Vanderbilt Sunday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game.
The top-seeded Tigers (46-16) won four consecutive games after losing the opener to the Commodores (34-25) en route to their second SEC Tournament title in a row and eighth overall. They're the first team to repeat since Alabama in 2002 and 2003.
It seemed an improbable championship matchup with LSU's opening loss and Vandy squeaking in as the No. 8 seed, but the Commodores were strong once again at Regions Park. They wound up making their fourth trip to the championship game in six seasons and are hoping that will be enough to land an NCAA regional invitation on Monday.
The Tigers were awarded a regional host site this afternoon, along with two other SEC teams, Florida and Mississippi.
Dean's RBIs came on two sacrifices and a run-scoring groundout. The Tigers' designated hitter, last year's tournament Most Valuable Player, had only one RBI in the previous five games.
Leon Landry had two doubles, a single and a pair of runs scored for LSU. Mikie Mahtook had his 10th hit and third RBI of the tournament and was named MVP.
LSU had played until late Saturday night, beating Georgia twice and enduring a four-hour, 28-minute rain delay in the first game. The Tigers erased most of the drama in the finale with a pair of runs in both the fourth and fifth innings and no pitching breakdowns.
Byrd more than made it hold up. He had only pitched 17 innings in 10 appearances all season, including two starts when he didn't make it through the fifth.
Byrd allowed five hits and two runs, both on solo homers. Coach Paul Manieri sent him back out in the eighth to give the chance for fans to applaud his performance, but he didn't throw another pitch.
Buzzy Haydel pitched the final two innings for the Tigers.
Curt Casali led off the seventh with a home run for the Commodores, who rebounded strongly after losing their final four regular-season games. Steven Liddle also homered in the fourth.