FAYETTEVILLE - Third-ranked LSU scored two runs in the 10th to beat No. 10 Arkansas 5-3 and win the series.
LSU catcher Ty Ross doubled to begin the 10th inning before Jared Foster pinch ran for him. Foster scored on a sacrifice fly by Sam McMullen to put the Tigers ahead in the extra inning.
The sacrifice fly was the second out of the inning and Mark Laird followed it up with an infield single, but it appeared he ran off the base path to avoid a tag from Dominic Ficociello. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn argued the call and was ejected by first base umpire Mike Morris.
The last time Van Horn had been tossed was in the series finale against No. 5 Florida last season.
“It was pretty simple. He went out of the baseline to avoid the tag. He can run out of the baseline, but when you go out of the baseline to avoid the tag, he's out. Simple. Bottom line,” Van Horn said. “I got thrown out for kicking the dirt. The line that he went outside of.”
Laird scored on a RBI single by Raph Rhymes to score the final run of the game.
“Who knows if we would have scored a run,” Van Horn said. “But it's a lot easier to score one than two. The call is what it is. We still could have gotten them out without them scoring and we didn't. That's the way it goes.”
In the bottom half of the inning, Arkansas had second baseman Jordan Farris, who went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in his first conference start for the Razorbacks, shortstop Brett McAfee and leadoff hitter Jacob Mahan due up. Farris grounded out to begin the inning, but McAfee singled before the remainder of the Arkansas coaching staff decided to remove its top two hitters in the order in favor of a pair of freshman.
Isaac Hellbusch pinch-hit for Mahan and Jean Ramirez replaced Joe Serrano. Hellbusch struck out and Ramirez popped out to the second baseman, one pitch after he tossed his bat into the stands on a swing at a foul ball. Neither of the batters had had an at-bat in conference play before the 10th inning of the rubber match against LSU.
“I wasn't in there, remember? So I wouldn't know,” Van Horn said of the thought process to take out the top two hitters in the Razorbacks’ lineup. “I would have hit Hellbusch, definitely for Mahan, who's hitting a buck-50 against lefties. But the other move? Probably just looking for somebody to hit a home run. The key was probably to try and get Spoon to the plate.”
LSU closer Chris Cotton (2-0) pitched the final two innings to earn the win. Cotton, Nick Rumbelow, Brent Bonvillain and Joey Bourgeios combined to toss 6 2/3 scoreless innings and allowing just two hits.
Left-hander Cody Glenn made the start for the Tigers and surrendered all three runs Arkansas scored. Glenn was replaced after Matt Vinson lined a ball off of the starting pitcher’s knee.
Arkansas took the initial lead in the opening inning when Jacob Mahan, who led off with a four-pitch walk, scored on a RBI single by Tyler Spoon.
LSU (34-3, 13-2 Southeastern Conference) took the lead away from Arkansas in the third when Alex Edward scored on a fielder’s choice and freshman shortstop Alex Bregman hit a two-one run home run, but Arkansas tied the game in the next inning.
“It looked like it was going to be crazy there early, 3-3 after four innings, and then it really settled in and just became a game that was decided by the bullpens,” Van Horn said.
Farris hit a home run to lead off the third and added another RBI in the fourth with a single that scored Ficociello. Ficociello made his first start of the season as the Razorbacks’ first baseman, where he was a member of the All-SEC defensive team last year. Van Horn said he was pleased with both of the infielders.
"I think Fisher is just as good of a first baseman, or pretty close anyway and he covers that four-hole a little better with that glove being on that hand,” he said. “It depends. It's there and it's always been there. It kind of depends on what Farris does. Can he hit right-handers well enough to stay in the lineup? It really went pretty well today, we just didn't win the game.
“I thought (Farris) did a great job. We're down 3-1 and he hits a bomb to make it 3-2. Obviously with two outs he gets a big base hit that tied it up. Even that ball he hit there in the last inning — as I was watching it on TV in the locker room — he hit it hard. If he hits is somewhere else, he probably gets a base hit. I'm proud of him. He's a good kid, a tough kid. I'm glad he had a good day.”
Senior left-hander Randall Fant made the start for Arkansas, but the Razorbacks coaching staff gave him a short leash against the Tigers. After giving up the home run, Fant was relieved by Brandon Moore, who tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings and only allowing one hit.
Arkansas (25-12, 9-6 SEC) pieced the pitching together to close out the games based mostly on matchups of the handedness of hitters. Trent Daniel retired the only three batters he faced before turning it over to Chris Oliver.
“I’ve been in this game a long time and I haven’t seen a crop of arms like Arkansas throws at you,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “He’s mixing and matching and going situations starting from the third and fourth inning on and every guy he brought in was outstanding. It was a challenge.”
Oliver (2-1) took the loss, as he was charged with the run scored on the sacrifice fly in the 10th.
Jalen Beeks and Colby Suggs also combined for an inning pitched. Beeks was charged with the run scored by Laird, breaking his streak of 19 scoreless innings pitche