TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — LSU coach Paul Mainieri planned on starting Kurt McCune against Alabama on Sunday afternoon.
McCune did face the Crimson Tide on Sunday, but it was in relief, shortly after midnight, as he pitched the final two innings of the Tigers’ wild and record-setting 11-8, 16-inning victory at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
It was that kind of night. Very little went according to plan, but it worked out for LSU, which overcame an early 3-0 deficit, built an 8-5 edge going into the ninth and finally broke an 8-8 tie after going scoreless for 8.2 innings.
“That was an amazing game,” Mainieri said. “There was a lot of emotional turmoil out there. I’m exhausted.”
The 16 innings matched the most ever played by a Tigers team, equaling the length of a 7-6 loss at Florida in 1996 and a 6-4 victory against South Alabama in Baton Rouge in 1972.
The length of the game, in terms of innings and time — 4 hours, 55 minutes — was the longest in stadium history.
Both teams squandered three-run leads before the game settled into a battle of bullpens and attrition.
LSU, which failed to score after loading the bases with none out in the 14th, started the winning rally after two were out against Mike Oczypok (3-1), the fifth of six Alabama pitchers.
Christian Ibarra, whose hesitation on the bases contributed to the failed opportunity two innings earlier, drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Pinch hitter Tyler Moore lined a double to left, sending Ibarra to third.
“You have to stay ready physically and mentally for just that type of situation,” Moore said. “I was just ready when the chance came.”
Oczypok’s wild pitch sent Ibarra home with the tie-breaking run. JaCoby Jones then hit an RBI double, and Ty Ross followed with an RBI single to complete the winning rally.
Kurt McCune (3-0), the sixth Tigers pitcher, threw two scoreless innings after being told he would start Sunday in place of Cody Glenn, who was expecting to start Wednesday against Tulane.
Glenn then found out in the 14th he would start Sunday.
LSU (37-3, 15-2 Southeastern Conference) improved to 4-0 in extra inning games this season.
The Crimson Tide (23-18, 8-9) is 0-4 in extra-inning games.
The Tigers will go for their fourth sweep in six conference series at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Alex Bregman and Ross both hit three-run home runs as LSU built an 8-5 lead through eight innings.
LSU loaded the bases with none out in the 14th — but with the infield playing in, shortstop Mikey White made a diving stop of Jones’ grounder and started a 6-2-5 double play, getting Ibarra on the back end after he hesitated after breaking from second to third.
Second baseman Kyle Overstreet made a diving stop of Ross’ grounder and threw him out to end the inning.
“I’ve never seen that double play in 31 years,” Mainieri said. “I still don’t know how it happened.”
Chris Cotton, who was 8 for 8 in save opportunities, took an 8-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth after pitching a scoreless eighth.
White led off with a single, and one out later, Andrew Miller reached on Jones’ fielding error at second. Kenny Roberts followed with his second homer of the season to tie the score.
George Salem followed with a single, but Cotton got a flyout and strikeout to send the game to extra innings.
Bama got runners to second and third with two out in the 10th, but Cotton got Miller to ground back to the mound.
Nate Fury relieved to start the 11th and got the Tide in order, starting his string of four scoreless innings before he gave way to McCune.
LSU got a leadoff single from Sean McMullen in the 13th, and Mark Laird sacrificed him to second. Bama intentionally walked Bregman, who needed just a single to hit for the cycle, and the intentional walk paid off when Raph Rhymes hit into an inning-ending double play.
LSU starter Ryan Eades lasted just four innings, matching his shortest outing of the season, which came last week at Arkansas. He gave up eight hits and five runs. He had lasted at least six innings in each of his six starts before last week.
“That was very discouraging,” Mainieri said of Eades’ outing.
Nick Rumbelow threw two scoreless innings, and Joey Bourgeois pitched one scoreless inning before Cotton took over.
LSU fell behind 3-0 early but turned things around quickly. Jones led off the third with a bloop single to center, Mark Laird beat out a two-out slow roller to first, and Bregman followed with his fourth homer of the season to even the score at 3.
Mason Katz led off the fourth with a double, went to third on Chris Sciambra’s single and scored a tie-breaking run on Jones’ second consecutive single. Ross followed with his third homer of the season to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead.
Bama cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning. Brett Booth beat out a grounder to short, White doubled him to third and Chance Vincent’s grounder sent Booth home. Miller’s single brought home White.
Ibarra doubled with two out in the seventh, and Sciambra followed with a triple to complete the scoring.
The Tide took a 1-0 lead in the first when leadoff hitter Kenny Roberts singled, moved to second on Ross’ passed ball and scored when Kyle Overstreet’s soft pop into shallow right fell in for a double.
Sciambra dove for the ball, but couldn’t make the catch and first baseman Katz ran down the ball and threw to Bregman, whose relay from shortstop got Overstreet trying to reach third.
Bama increased the lead to 3-0 in the second as Booth singled, White doubled and Miller hit a two-out, two-run single.