OXFORD, Miss. — Grant Dozar hadn’t had a hit since April 7, but he homered in the eighth and then singled home the winning run in the top of the 13th.
Kevin Gausman pitched 7.2 solid innings and five relievers backed him up with 5.1 scoreless innings, including Joey Bourgeois pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 12th.
When all was said and done, No. 4 LSU’s longest game of the season ended with a heart-pumping 4-3 victory against No. 24 Ole Miss in front of 9,511 fans on Friday night at Swayze Field.
“It was a tenacious win,” Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said after the 4-hour, 17-minute marathon. “Everybody contributed. I thought our bullpen was phenomenal. Everybody came in and did a great job. We just kept fighting right to the end. The guys never got down. They kept believing we were going to find a way to win in the end.”
The Tigers improved to 37-10 and 15-7 in Southeastern Conference play as they remained tied with South Carolina for the overall conference lead and increased their Western Division lead to four games over Arkansas and Mississippi State. The Rebels are 30-17 and 10-12 heading into the second game of the series at 2 p.m. Saturday. LSU improved to 2-2 in extra-inning games, 1-1 on the road.
With one out in the 13th, Raph Rhymes drew a walk, and Tyler Moore singled him to third. Dozar worked the count full before hitting an infield single to short to break a 3-3 tie. Rhymes went 2-for-5, leaving his NCAA-leading batting average at .500 as he extended his hitting streak to 13 games and reached base for the 27th straight game.
Ole Miss’ R.J. Hively (4-4) pitched five strong innings in relief of starter Bobby Wahl before yielding the decisive run in his sixth inning.
Nick Goody pitched a scoreless 13th, allowing just a walk, to get his ninth save of the season. Bourgeois (3-2) pitched a scoreless but stress-filled 12th.
Preston Overbey led off with a single and Tanner Mathis sacrificed him to second. Jake Overbey walked before Alex Yarbrough, the second-leading hitter in the SEC, struck out to finish 0-for-6.
LSU chose to intentionally walk cleanup hitter Matt Snyder even though it moved the potential winning run to third and loaded the bases.
On his way to the mound to tell Bourgeois and the infielders what his plan was, Mainieri passed the batter’s box and told Snyder, “not tonight, big fella, I’m not gonna let you beat us tonight.”
Austin Knight worked the count to 2-1 then hit a line drive right to shortstop Austin Nola to end the inning.
“The only thing that was going through my head (after the walk) was, ‘I can’t let my team down,’ ” Bourgeois said. “We’ve worked so hard to get here. I had to do anything and everything to not let my teammates down.”
Both teams failed to tale advantage of other opportunities. Bonvillain struck out Snyder, who had singled and homered, to start the 11th, then gave up a single to Knight and hit John Gatlin with a 1-2 pitch. He quickly recovered, getting Austin Anderson to fly to center and Auston Bousfield to ground out.
With two out in the top of the 10th, Rhymes singled to left. Moore got ahead in the count, 2-0, but Rhymes broke for second as the second ball bounced in the dirt. Knight easily threw him out at second to end the inning.
With one out in the bottom half, pinch-hitter Jake Overbey hit a fly ball into right-center, and it dropped in for a single as right fielder Mason Katz barely missed a diving catch. Mathis then went the other way and dropped a single just in front of Rhymes in left. That brought in right-hander Nick Rumbelow to relieve Chris Cotton.
Rumbelow struck out pinch hitter Zach Kirksey on three pitches, and Mainieri brought in left-hander Bonvillain to turn switch-hitting Yarbrough. Bonvillain struck him out to end the Ole Miss threat.
After giving up just three singles and one run in the first six innings, Gausman was hit hard in the seventh. Snyder, who was the first Rebel to reach base when he led off the fifth with a single, ripped his 11th home run of the season into the LSU bullpen in right field to tie the score at 2-2. It was the first home run allowed by Gausman in 80.1 innings, dating to the first inning of the season opener against Air Force on Feb. 17.
Will Allen followed with a single to center. John Gatlin tried to sacrifice but failed twice, and coach Mike Bianco gave him the hit sign. Gatlin hit a high bouncer past the mound that second baseman JaCoby Jones charged. Jones had to sidestep Allen and couldn’t come up with an in-between hop, allowing Gatlin to reach. Mainieri argued that Allen had interfered, but the umpires disagreed.
After Anderson sacrificed the runners to second and third, Bousfield launched a sacrifice fly to center, scoring pinch-runner Senquez Golson to give Ole Miss a 3-2 lead.
Hively relieved Wahl to start the eighth and struck out Rhymes and Moore before Dozar went the other way with a drive that hit the top of the wall in left and bounced over for his third homer of the season, tying the score. It ended an 0-for-11 stretch for Dozar.
“I didn’t think it was gone,” Dozar said. “The left fielder looked like he camped under it briefly, then he spun around. I just put my head down and ran, and when the crowd went quiet, I figured it had cleared the fence.”
Gausman cruised through the first four innings, getting the Rebels in order in each.
Ole Miss got its first run in the sixth on Mathis’s RBI single.
Moore gave LSU a 1-0 lead when he drove a Wahl pitch over the right-field wall for his third homer of the season with one out in the second. The Tigers upped the lead to 2-0 in the third on Rhymes’ RBI single.
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