BATON ROUGE, La. – Vanderbilt leftfielder Jack Bulger hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning Saturday to break a 3-3- tie, and the top-ranked Commodores held on for a 5-4 win over LSU in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
Vanderbilt improved to 24-3 overall, 8-1 in the SEC, while LSU dropped to 17-11 and 1-8.
The Tigers return to action at 6:30 p.m. CT Tuesday when they play host to McNeese State in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. The game will be streamed on SEC Network +, and it can be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.
Vanderbilt reliever Ethan Smith (1-0) earned the win, firing 2.2 scoreless innings with one hit, no walks and two strikeouts. Luke Murphy picked up his fifth save of the season, pitching the final 1.1 innings and allowing one run, no hits, two walks and two strikeouts.
LSU reliever Garrett Edwards (0-2) was charged with the loss, as he worked 1.2 innings with no walks and one strikeout, but gave up the deciding home run to Bulger in the seventh.
“Vanderbilt really has no weaknesses, they’re an unbelievable team,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It’s one of the best teams I’ve seen Vanderbilt have in the 15 years I’ve been at LSU. We competed so hard today; (LSU starting pitcher) AJ Labas gave us another courageous performance. He had seven strikeouts and most of those were in clutch situations.
“I thought our bullpen was very good today as well, and we pitched outstanding baseball against the No. 1 team in the country. But, it was a tough loss, and I feel for the kids. We’re going to have to deal with it and move forward. Our tendency in the past has been that we’ve always gotten better as the season goes on, and we need to, there’s no question about it. We’ve got a young team – we started five true freshmen today – and we’re going to have to keep battling through it.”
LSU opened the scoring on a solo homer in the second inning by leftfielder Gavin Dugas, his seventh dinger of the season.
Vanderbilt struck for three runs in the top of the third, when shortstop Carter Young belted a two-run homer, and designated hitter Spencer Jones provided an RBI single.
LSU responded with two runs in the fourth to tie the contest at 3-3, as designated hitter Brody Drost delivered a run-scoring single, and first baseman Tre’ Morgan was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Bulger’s homer in the seventh gave the Commodores a 5-3 advantage, but the Tigers put together a threat in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases against Murphy with one out.
Dugas lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to narrow the deficit to 5-4, but third baseman Cade Doughty popped out to shortstop to end the game.
The Tigers received another solid start from Labas, who threw 104 pitches in 5.1 innings and limited Vanderbilt to three runs on nine hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
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