OXFORD, Miss. — LSU has an opportunity to win its Southeastern Conference series against Ole Miss by beating the Rebels in the series finale Sunday.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the game begins at 1:30 p.m. It’s not so much that there will be scorching heat as there was Saturday afternoon. The problem is that Ole Miss’ 7-4 victory Saturday afternoon was LSU’s fourth consecutive loss in the daytime, dropping it to 10-9 in day games for the season. The Tigers are 27-2 in night games.
“It was awfully warm, but I don’t think that was the reason (for the loss),” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “We came ready to play. It was just one of those things. The correlation between the day games and losing is that we haven’t pitched well in day games. If your starting pitcher pitches a great game, it doesn’t matter if it’s a day game or a night game.”
Mainieri took assistant coach Will Davis’ advice, and it paid off for the Tigers on Friday. Mainieri put Grant Dozar in the lineup as the designated hitter against Rebels starter Bobby Wahl.
Wahl entered the series with a 5-1 record and a 2.09 ERA, but in studying video of him, Davis felt that the right-handed Wahl’s one potential vulnerability, albeit a relatively minor one, was against left-handed hitters. So Mainieri, who had been using right-handed Jordy Snikeris as the DH against righties and lefties, went with the left-handed Dozar.
Dozar, who hadn’t started a Southeastern Conference game since April 13 and hadn’t had a hit since April 7, came through with a homer and singled home the winning run as LSU prevailed 4-3 in 13 innings.
Mainieri put left-handed hitting Tyler Moore and Dozar immediately behind cleanup hitter Raph Rhymes. Moore also homered.
“It was a little bit of a hunch,” Mainieri said, “but I give a lot of credit to Will Davis. If (facing left-handers) was the one kink in the armor, I wanted to stack the two left-handed hitters, so (Wahl) might be less likely to pitch around Rhymes.”
Dozar started again Saturday and went 0-for-3, but he drove in a run with a squeeze bunt and scored a run.
It has been a tough series so far for the No. 3 hitters in both lineups as they both went 0-for-6 Friday. Rebels second baseman Alex Yarbrough, the SEC’s No. 2 hitter who entered the series batting .417, had two strikeouts and stranded three runners. LSU right fielder Mason Katz had one strikeout and stranded one runner.
Both were marginally better Saturday. Yarbrough was 1-for-4 with an RBI and Katz was 0-for-3 but had a walk and a run.
LSU’s 7-4 loss Saturday was just the second time this season it has lost when scoring at least four runs. Kentucky beat them 7-6 on April 22. ... LSU OF Jared Foster pinch ran for Moore in the top of the 13th and played right field in the bottom half Friday. That marked his first action since he broke his nose and suffered a mild concussion in a minor auto accident April 26.
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