LSU wins their 10th SEC Tournament title

Bill Franques
LSU celebrates after winning their 10th SEC Tournament title. Photo by

Second-ranked LSU defeated top-ranked Vanderbilt 5-4 in 11 innings Sunday to claim the 10th Southeastern Conference Tournament title in school history at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

The Tigers now move on to the NCAA Tournament and the Baton Rouge Regional beginning May 31.

In the top of the 11th inning, right fielder Jared Foster stole second base after being hit by a pitch. Pinch hitter Chris Sciambra then stepped up to the plate and delivered a game-winning single into centerfield, scoring Foster from second.

LSU closer Chris Cotton retired Vanderbilt in order in the bottom of the 11th, wrapping up the championship victory. Cotton (4-1) earned the victory and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

"What a tremendous college baseball game," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "Vanderbilt has a great team, and our kids just played their hearts out. Our players woke up this morning knowing they had a chance to win a championship, and they got the job done. Winning this tournament means a lot to our players, and it can do nothing but help us moving forward to the NCAA tournament."

The Tigers seized a 3-0 lead in the second inning off of RBI singles from Foster (2-for-3) and centerfielder Andrew Stevenson. Another RBI came on a sacrifice fly from designated hitter Sean McMullen.

The Commodores countered in the bottom of the frame with an RBI-grounder by DH Zander Wiel and an RBI-single from shortstop Vince Conde, cutting the Tigers' lead to 3-2.

LSU increased the lead to 4-2 as Foster delivered another RBI-single in the fourth. However, Vanderbilt's Conde answered again with a two-RBI double in the seventh, evening the game at 4-4.

Foster showcased his arm to end the seventh, fielding a fly to right and throwing out Wiel at the plate to halt the Commodore uprising.

Vanderbilt closer Brian Miller (5-2) gave a gallant effort but suffered the defeat, allowing one run on Sciambra's game-winning hit while walking one and striking out four.

LSU starter Brent Bonvillain led the Tigers through the four innings, allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and one strikeout.

LSU will play host to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional in Alex Box Stadium beginning at 2 p.m. Friday when the Tigers meet Jackson State. Louisiana-Lafayette will face Sam Houston State at 7 p.m. Friday in the second game of the four-team regional.

The regional continues Saturday and Sunday and, if necessary, will finish on Monday. The winner of the Baton Rouge Regional will face the winner of the Blacksburg (Va.) Regional in an NCAA Super Regional next weekend.