Shortstop Kramer Robertson refused to come out of the game with a bloody swollen lip after a third-inning relay throw from the outfield beaned him in the mouth, and his 13th-ranked LSU Tigers refused to lose, rallying from a 9-1 deficit to defeat Arkansas 10-9 in 10 innings Saturday night.
Robertson, the last batter of the game, beat a throw to first on an infield grounder, moving Jake Fraley to third, and Fraley scored the game-winning run on a Razorbacks error. Fraley has stretched a single into a double on a hustle play to start the 10th-inning rally.
LSU (30-16, 13-10) trailed 9-4 in the seventh inning, when the grounds crew had to remove an opossum from the field, and the strange visitor seemed to spark the Tigers, who scored a single run in the home half of the seventh and tied the game with four more runs in the ninth.
St. Thomas More freshman Brennan Breaux, the third leftfielder used by head coach Paul Mainieri in the game, went 3-for-3 with two RBI. His two-run double in the ninth cut the Razorbacks lead to 9-8, and Greg Deichmann's sacrifice fly sent the game to extra innings tied 9-9. Breaux entered the game with an .050 batting average and just one hit all season in 20 at-bats.
Starting leftfielder Beau Jordan was removed from the lineup in the middle of the first inning after a heated discussion with Mainieri in the dugout. Brady Wofford, who replaced Jordan, struck out three times, including a two-out at-bat with the bases loaded, and also dropped a fly ball in left field for one of three Tigers errors.
Starting pitcher Jared Poche' only lasted an inning and a third, moving back to Saturday from his normal Friday night starter's role. Poche' allowed seven hits and four runs, and Arkansas (26-21, 7-16) added four unearned runs off Doug Norman in the fifth to take a commanding eight-run lead.
Mainieri said a poor inning on defense dug the team into a deep hole, but they never gave up.
"I was just so proud of our guys, the way they were so patient against Zach Jackson (a projected early round pick in next month's MLB draft), who threw 90 pitches in the first three innings and gave us a chance to chip away at the lead," said Mainieri.
He also singled out Robertson, who was hit with a ball in practice earlier this season that loosened his teeth.
"His lip was as big as a grapefruit," said Mainieri, adding that when he went out to check on his shortstop's status, "He told me 'You are not taking me out of this game," the coach said with a laugh.
Parkview Baptist's Russell Reynolds (2-0), who got the victory, was the last of five relievers used by LSU in the game. Reynolds, Riley Smith and Dutchtown's Austin Bain combined for five scoreless innings, allowing just three of Arkansas' 15 hits.
LSU had 16 hits, but also struck out a season-high 15 times, and Tigers batters were 0-for-8 with the bases loaded. That was until St. Michael's freshman Chris Reid, who was 3-for-5, made the Hogs pay for two errors in the ninth with an RBI single to make it 9-6, and Breaux followed with his third hit of the game.
Mainieri announced after the game that Caleb Gilbert, a closer from Hoover, Alabama, will be LSU's Game 3 starter as the Tigers go for the sweep in the series Sunday at 1 p.m.
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