Miscues cost LSU a series sweep of Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The LSU baseball team had a chance to claim its fourth Southeastern Conference series sweep Sunday afternoon against Alabama.

But the Tigers had to settle for a series win after a 4-3, 10-inning loss at Sewell-Thomas Stadium because they didn’t do what they have become accustomed to doing.

LSU matched a season high with three errors, giving it six in the series. The Tigers, the top fielding team in the SEC, had not committed more than two errors in any other conference series.

As a result, LSU lost a one-run game for the first time after winning its first five. And it lost in extra innings for the first time after winning its first four, including an 11-8, 16-inning marathon that ended 13 hours before Sunday’s game began.

Although the defensive lapses — as well as some offensive ones — denied the Tigers a sweep, they still won for the sixth time in as many league series.

LSU, ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball, is 37-4 and 15-3 in the SEC, holding a four-game lead over second-place Arkansas in the West division. The Tigers play Tulane at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Alex Box Stadium. The Crimson Tide improved to 24-18 and 9-9.

“I’m happy we won the series, of course,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “If you win every series, you’re going to have a good year, but this is a game that I thought was very winnable if we had just done a little bit more.”

Left-hander Cody Glenn did plenty after pitching poorly in his three previous SEC road starts. In eight innings, he limited the Crimson Tide to four hits and one earned run, walking none and striking out four. But Alabama scored two unearned runs off Glenn and another off reliever Joey Bourgeois in the 10th. Kyle Overstreet’s two-out, bases-loaded single to left-center ended 26 innings of baseball in less than 16 hours.

“It was difficult for both teams; we were very tired,” Mainieri said. “Fortunately Cody Glenn kept us in the game and gave us a chance to kind of get into it a little bit.”

The Tigers erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits but never had a multiple-run inning. They had a runner on second base with one out in the fourth and didn’t score. They loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh and scored just once. They got a leadoff double in the eighth and didn’t score. They had runners on second and third with no outs in the ninth and scored just one run. And they didn’t score in the 10th despite having runners on first and second with one out.

“We had opportunities to have crooked-number innings,” Mainieri said. “When you’re on the road in this league and you let the other team stay in the game, it’ll often come back to bite you.”

Then there was an error by second baseman JaCoby Jones that helped Bama turn a one-run inning into a two-run fourth, and two errors by third baseman Christian Ibarra that helped the Tide regain the lead in the seventh and win in the 10th.

“Cody threw an absolute gem,” first baseman Mason Katz said. “The way we’ve played all year, we’ve won with good pitching. And if our pitching wasn’t really great, our lineup was phenomenal, and our defense has been the best in the league and one of the best in the country. Our defense failed us all weekend long.”

Bourgeois (2-1) hit Mikey White with a pitch leading off the bottom of the 10th. Chance Vincent sacrificed him to second, and Andrew Miller reached when Ibarra mishandled his bunt. LSU intentionally walked Kenny Roberts, and George Salem flied out to shallow center before Overstreet ended it.

Bama starter Spencer Turnbull went nine innings, holding the Tigers to three hits and three runs (two earned) as he struck out four and walked two.

“We got just what we needed with the start from Spencer Turnbull; he was dynamite for nine innings,” Tide coach Mitch Gaspard said. “This was a really big win for our team, especially coming off (Saturday) night.”

LSU, which lost a three-run, ninth-inning lead Saturday, scored a ninth-inning run to tie Sunday’s game. Katz led off with a single, and Ibarra, after failing to sacrifice, lined a double to right. Chris Sciambra’s sacrifice fly tied it.

LSU tied it at 2 in the seventh when Sciambra grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, but Bama broke the tie in the bottom half. Brett Booth reached leading off when Ibarra’s throw on his grounder pulled Katz off the bag at first. Austen Smith sacrificed, and White singled home Booth.

Turnbull held LSU to just a walk as he took a 2-0 lead into the fifth. Ibarra had a one-out single, went to second on Turnbull’s wild pitch and scored on Ty Ross’ single.

After getting the first 10 Tide batters in order, Glenn gave up a one-out double to Salem in the fourth. Overstreet hit a routine dribbler to second that Jones mishandled for an error as Salem went to third. Ben Moore’s RBI single broke the scoreless tie and, one out later, Smith hit a grounder up the middle. Jones ranged over to get the ball and flipped to shortstop Alex Bregman covering second, but it was too late to get Moore. Overstreet kept running around third and beat Bregman’s throw to the plate for a 2-0 lead.