Chris Murray: LSU On Top of SEC West, Takes Series from Razorbacks

Chris Murray Bio

Somehow, with the Arkansas Razorbacks and South Carolina Gamecocks battling in the College World Series last June (not to mention Carolina’s impressive run at the CWS the two years prior), and Arkansas’ preseason no. 1 ranking, the LSU Tigers seemed to have been a little bit forgotten.

From day one of the 2013 season, the Tigers have reminded the nation that they belong among the elite. LSU has run up an amazing 34-3 overall record, and is now 13-2 in the Southeastern Conference after taking two of three in a high-pressure series this past weekend at Baum Stadium.

The Tigers took the rubber game in 10 innings, 5-3, capping three days of intense SEC competition. LSU manufactured a pair of runs in the 10th, after the Hogs’ bullpen had set down 13 consecutive Tigers. But the LSU bullpen was more than equal to the task, shutting out the Razorbacks over the final six innings.

In this age of dominant pitching, the Tigers have employed a modified version of Gorilla-ball. They used homers to take the lead on Friday and Sunday. On Friday, it was Sean McMullen who broke a scoreless tie with a three-run blast to right – his first of the season – and LSU cruised, 6-2.

On Sunday, Alex Bregman capped a three-run third with a two-run blast for the Tigers. Jordan Farris was inserted into the Hogs’ lineup by Dave Van Horn, and he produced, clubbing a solo homer in the third and an RBI single in the fourth. The Tigers’ clamped down after that, though, holding the Hogs scoreless the rest of the way.

Arkansas’ win on Saturday was sparked by Jake Wise’s three-run homer in the fourth. The Razorbacks built an 8-0 lead before the Tigers plated three in the ninth. Ryne Stanek pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits.

As the SEC schedule hits the midway mark, LSU and Vanderbilt have created separation in their respective divisions. Vandy ran its league record to 14-1, getting fat over the weekend against scuffling Missouri. The Commodores are 33-4 overall. The second tier looks to be logjammed, with the Razorbacks leading a pack of seven or eight teams looking to make some noise before the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
Arkansas struggled in a midweek doubleheader with New Mexico at Baum. In fact, the Lobos shut out the Hogs 3-0 in the opener. The Hogs had to rally in the nightcap to emerge with a 4-3 win.

The Razorbacks travel to Lincoln, Neb., for a pair of games with Nebraska on Tuesday and Wednesday, as Dave Van Horn returns to his previous stop. Texas A&M comes to Fayetteville for a three-game series starting Friday.

The Arkansas Travelers split the first four games of their road trip to Frisco and Midland. The Travs (5-5) play the next two nights at Midland before returning home for four games with Springfield starting Thursday.

Northwest Arkansas fell 9-2 to Frisco on Sunday in Texas League action. The Naturals had won three of four games after dropping their first five to start the season. Northwest Arkansas finished its series Tuesday at Frisco before hosting Tulsa for a four-game set starting Thursday.

Arkansas State was outscored 30-5 while getting swept this weekend by South Alabama in Mobile. The Red Wolves were pummeled 20-2 on Saturday and fell to 6-9 in Sun Belt play. The Jaguars are tied with Western Kentucky atop the league standings at 10-5.

Arkansas-Little Rock dropped two of three at home to the always-tough Louisiana-Lafayette. After splitting the first two games, the Trojans led 9-6 entering the ninth inning on Sunday. The Cajuns scored nine runs in the frame and won 15-10. UALR fell to 5-10 in the SBC.

Central Arkansas scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to rally past Nicholls State on Sunday in Conway. The Bears trailed 6-4 entering the inning, but Justin Treece tied the score with a sacrifice fly, and Doug Votolato singled home the game-winner. The Bears improved to 6-6 in the Southland Conference, 26-9 overall. UCA made headlines last Tuesday, walloping Grambling State 30-0 at Bear Field. The Bears scored in every inning, and catcher Michael Marietta went 7-for-7 with three homers and 11 RBIs.

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