HOOVER, Ala. — Kade Scivicque leaned into an interview between a reporter and Chris Chinea, flashing goofy faces and finally achieving his goal: Chinea lost his concentration.
The LSU first baseman stepped away from the interview and laughed, playfully shoving Scivicque.
Even now, Chinea’s teammates are still picking at him — but not about his lack of long bombs.
“I think he was tired of the ragging,” Scivicque said. “I think we got on to him a little bit too much. The guy is making a statement.”
Too much? Nah. Just right.
Chinea had his fourth home run in five games during a three-hit day, Scivicque had two RBIs and starter Alex Lange wiggled out of handful of jams in LSU’s series-clinching 6-2 win over Alabama on Friday afternoon.
The Tigers (26-5, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) rolled up 13 hits and took advantage of three Alabama errors to win a third league series in four SEC sets this season. They bounced back from a home series loss to Kentucky last weekend and recovered — though exhausted — from a wild, 16-inning 8-5 win Thursday night.
“Winning this game was a huge thing coming off the heels of such a tiring game the night before,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “And now we’re in a position to do something that’s very rare in this league — sweep a series on the road.”
That chance comes at 2 p.m. Saturday from Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, the temporary home for the Crimson Tide (15-14, 4-7) while its on-campus stadium undergoes renovations.
Chinea has a shot to keep his home run streak alive.
The junior from Miami blasted a soaring solo homer in the fourth inning well over the 390-foot second wall in left field — his third home run in three games and his fourth since Saturday.
He had that inside-the-park homer against Kentucky on Saturday — a line drive that became wedged under the fence in center field. It served as his first homer of the season and — it appears — sparked the guy.
“You’ve got to get one under your belt,” Chinea said smiling.
There’s something else behind it, Scivicque says. Scivicque and teammates poked at Chinea for his home run total — zero — through the first 26 games of the season.
To put it nicely, Scivicque said, he got ticked off.
“Just a little friendly ragging,” said Scivicque, LSU’s catcher. “He’s an easy guy to get wound up so you start ragging on him and he gets a little fired up.”
He’s taking the anger out on the stitches. Chinea ripped a double to left – a ball that flew to the warning track – and had a single in the sixth. His home run in the fourth inning flew well over the new wall at the Met. It soared over the original 20-foot high, 390-foot wall behind it.
“You don’t see that very often here,” Mainieri said.
Chinea didn’t even see the homer fly over the second wall.
“I don’t look at my home runs,” he said. “I just run, and when I see the umpire wave home run, then I slow down.”
He’s now got six homers for his career. Four of them have come in a week’s time.
There were other heroes, too, in a game between teams who were limping after a 5-hour, 25-minute affair that ended at 12:30 a.m. Friday morning. Friday’s game started at 3 p.m.
“Quite frankly,” Mainieri said, “I was exhausted during the game. We’re all looking forward to a good night’s sleep.”
They’ll rest easy, especially after a pair of relievers in Hunter Newman and Parker Bugg pitched a scoreless final 2.1 innings a night after the bullpen blew three — count ’em, three — saves.
Bugg, with a runner on in the ninth, induced a double play, and Mark Laird made a sliding catch to end the game. Newman continued his pressure-packed relief. He retired the final batter of the seventh inning — his first batter — with men at second and third, and he started a key double play in the eighth inning to strand another runner on third base.
“That’s how our bullpen is. We’ve kind of gotten away from who we are as pitchers,” Lange said. “Coach (Alan) Dunn has been talking to us about that. That’s how we are going to be the rest of the year.”
Lange, meanwhile, fought off some location woes to shut out the Crimson Tide for the first six innings. He allowed two runs in the Tide’s three-hit seventh, tied a career high with five walks and allowed nine hits, but Lange stranded a whopping 10 runners in the opening six frames.
Mainieri and Lange both called the pitcher’s “stuff” on Friday the worst of the season. He walked the first batter and walked two more over the next three frames, but Lange left five runners in scoring position through six innings.
“Out of whack mechanically,” Lange said. “Fastball command was horrible. Out of sync. Falling off the mound, rushing, arm slots changing spots. When you don’t have your ‘A’ game, your mechanics, the game doesn’t stop because you’re not on your ‘A’ game. You’ve got to battle through it.”
His hitters battled, too, specifically that first baseman. Chinea has had some woes on defense at first, but he shined in the field Friday — and, of course, at the plate.
So stop picking on him. On second though, his teammates might want to continue it.
“Everything he’s hitting,” Mainieri said, “he’s driving with authority.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.