HOOVER, AL (WAFB) - Pinch-hitter Jordan Romero came through with a game-winning RBI single in the 14th inning and LSU added an insurance run to win the longest game in SEC Tournament history.
The 5-3 victory over Florida in the five hour and seven minute marathon sends the Gators into a elimination game Thursday afternoon.
Florida freshman Deacon Liput delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings, but then the Gators couldn't keep LSU (41-17) from advancing to Thursday night's winner's bracket game.
To get to the 14th inning, Tigers' reliever Jesse Stallings had to escape a nobody-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 11th, when LSU employed a five-infielder defensive alignment. After an infield fly, third baseman Chris Reid snared a line drive down the third base line and tagged the bag for a double play to end the inning.
LSU had rallied for three runs in the top of the eighth inning to give Alex Lange a 3-2 lead, after the Tigers' starter recovered from a shaky first inning.
However, Buddy Reed's fly ball down the left field line to lead off the bottom of the ninth against reliever Hunter Newman went off the glove of defensive replacement Brennan Breaux. The umpires overturned a foul ball ruling with video replay, awarding Reed second base with a double. A sacrifice bunt moved Reed to third and he later scored on Liput's single to right field.
Lange strung together six scoreless innings, but only after allowing two first-inning runs to the Gators on three extra base hits. JJ Schwarz had a one-out RBI double scoring Jonathan India, who had doubled, and Reed followed with an RBI triple for the game's only runs until LSU's rally in the eighth inning.
Lange also walked two in that first inning, throwing 36 pitches in the frame, but allowed just two hits the rest of the night. Lange also recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts.
Florida starter AJ Puk, who missed a chance to face the Tigers during the regular season due to illness, took a four-hit shutout into the eighth, after retiring Greg Deichmann and Michael Papierski with two Tigers aboard in the top of the seventh. Puk got Deichmann with one of his seven strikeouts and induced Papierski into a grounder to second base to end the threat.
However, LSU put an end to the shutout and sent Puk to the showers in the eighth, when Antoine Duplantis doubled with one out and scored on Jake Fraley's RBI single to cut the lead in half. Fraley advanced to second on Reed's throw to the plate and took third on a throwing error by catcher Mike Rivera.
Puk was replaced by closer Shaun Anderson, but Fraley scored on a controversial call. He was ruled safe at home on Kramer Robertson's fielders' choice, even though television replays indicated Rivera blocked the plate and applied the tag in time to get the out. Robertson then stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored the go-ahead run on an RBI single up the middle by Bryce Jordan.
Florida (44-12) was ranked No. 1 in the nation a week ago before losing a series to LSU The Gators now faces ninth-seed Alabama in an elimination game at around 1 p.m. Thursday, after the Crimson Tide lost to the Bulldogs, 4-1.
LSU will face off against regular season champion and top seed Mississippi State, which has won 12 straight games, around 8 p.m. Thursday. The game will be aired on the SEC Network.