LSU stifles Alabama for SEC baseball crown

LOUISIANA STATE 4, ALABAMA 3 (11)

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HOOVER, Ala. --- Tyler Hanover's two-out RBI single in the top of the 11th inning lifted LSU to a 4-3 victory over Alabama Sunday and its third consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament title.

LSU ace Anthony Ranaudo, in a rare relief appearance, pitched three hitless innings and finished off the Crimson Tide with two strikeouts and a groundout in the 11th.

The Tigers (40-20) are the first team to win three consecutive tournament titles since Alabama (37-22) did it from 1995-97 and the first to do it under the current format. It was also the first time the championship game went to extra innings. No eighth seed had won before LSU did it in a matchup with No. 7 seed Alabama in a title game of underdogs that have gotten hot at the right time.

Matt Gaudet singled with one out in the 11th off closer Jake Smith, then Johnny Dishon popped up. Mikie Mahtook reached on a throwing error by Tide shortstop Josh Rutledge, who made a nice play to get to the ball. Then Hanover drove a single into left field to bring home pinch-runner Matt Fury.

The teams had to sit through two weather delays totaling nearly 21/2 hours before finishing it off.

Ranaudo (5-2) struck out five and celebrated the end by slamming his glove into the infield grass before getting buried under a pileup of teammates.

The defending national champion Tigers squeaked into the field and went 4-0 before earning their 10th SEC Tournament title. The Tide had been 7-0 in championship games -- three of the wins coming against LSU -- and had an eight-game winning streak. LSU shortstop Austin Nola was named MVP.

Ranaudo got Smith, who also played third base and earlier delivered the tying hit, to pop up to right field with runners on first and third in the bottom of the 10th.

Smith allowed only one run in the final three innings after taking over for Tide ace Jimmy Nelson, who tossed a complete game against Auburn in the tournament opener and went two scoreless innings in his second appearance.

Alabama had rallied from a 3-0 deficit, finally getting to LSU starter Daniel Bradshaw with one out in the seventh. Andrew Miller lifted an RBI single to center on the only pitch for reliever Chris Cotton, who was lifted for Paul Bertuccini.

Alabama pulled even with Smith's two-out RBI single to right in the eighth inning making it 3-3. Ross Wilson started it with a walk, then Clay Jones singled off Paul Bertuccini -- all with two outs.


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