HOOVER, Ala. — After his leadoff home run settled somewhere behind the bullpen in left field, Kramer Robertson crossed home plate, gazed out at the massively pro-LSU crowd and raised his arms, pleading with it to get louder.
It was clear what type of day this would be for LSU from the third pitch of the game.
“That swing, he just got the momentum in their dugout and we weren’t able to recover,” South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said of Robertson’s home run. “They ambushed us offensively, and that was the story of the game.”
Robertson’s eighth homer of the season was the first of 14 LSU hits, as the Tigers blasted South Carolina 11-0 on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s Southeastern Conference tournament championship game for the sixth time under coach Paul Mainieri and an SEC record 18th time in program history.
LSU goes into this title game on the heels of two straight wins by run rule, both of which featured a relentless offensive approach backed up shutout performances by the pitching staff.
Going into Saturday’s semifinal game, Mainieri quickly identified his team’s obvious advantage. The Gamecocks (35-25) were playing in their fifth game in as many days and had exhausted most of their top pitching options just to get to this point. LSU, meanwhile, had played just 16 innings.
“Who’s got that kind of pitching depth to be able to keep running quality arms out there?” Mainieri said. “We needed to take advantage of that situation.
“Let’s start strong, start fast and we just might take the spirit out of them, knowing that they don’t have the arms to compete for nine innings.”
LSU did just that. Two batters after Robertson sent a jolt through the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium crowd, Greg Deichmann crushed his 18th home run of the year just barely over South Carolina center fielder TJ Hopkins’ leaping attempt for a two-run shot.
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The steamroller was ready, and LSU (42-17) was in the driver’s seat.
The Tigers knocked out Gamecocks starting pitcher Colby Lee (2-1) with one out in the second inning, then rudely greeted his replacement, left-hander John Parke, with base hits on the first two pitches they saw from him.
“We tried like crazy,” Holbrook said. “We were trying to keep the game close, trying to get to the fifth or sixth inning and have a chance. They’re swinging at such a high level right now, they didn’t give us an opportunity.”
By the time Deichmann hit his second homer of the game in the third inning — giving him his first career multiple home run game — LSU already had enough runs to claim its second straight run-rule win. His solo shot in the third capped a six-run inning and gave LSU an 11-0 lead.
Senior Jared Poché (10-3) fired six scoreless innings for the win. He moved past Lane Mestepey to claim sole possession of second place on the school’s all-time wins list. Poché is one win behind LSU’s all-time leader, Scott Schultz (38).
Poché also earned his third career SEC tournament win, tying him with Alabama’s Neal Lamb for the most in tournament history.
“We knew if we were going to win the game it was going to have to be 9-7 or something,” Holbrook said. “Poché, you want to get nine against that guy? That’s a tall order too.”
LSU may have to keep its offensive barrage going against Arkansas in Sunday's championship game (2 p.m., ESPN2). The Hogs embarrassed top-seeded Florida 16-0 in Saturday’s other semifinal game, also winning by run rule in seven innings.
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This will be Arkansas fourth appearance in the tournament final and first since 2007. The Razorbacks are seeking their first tournament championship.
If LSU wins, Mainieri will tie LSU’s Skip Bertman and Alabama’s Jim Wells for the most tournament titles (six) in SEC history.