‘Apply pressure’: Aggressive base-running pays off in LSU’s win over Alabama _lowres

LSU's Andrew Stevenson (6) scores a run on an errant pickoff play at third, giving LSU the lead in the 13th inning against Alabama, during an NCAA college baseball game, Saturday, April 4, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)

HOOVER, Ala. — One throw went 10 feet to the right of second base. Another hit at the feet of the third baseman. A third bounced against the backstop.

Meanwhile, LSU players kept rounding the bases.

Said speedy center fielder Andrew Stevenson: “If you apply pressure, you force them to make plays.”

Alabama didn’t.

LSU beat the Crimson Tide 6-4 in 13 innings on Saturday, using its speedy base runners, base-stealing ways and taking advantage of UA inserting its backup catcher.

LSU’s season-long aggressiveness around the bases paid off like never before this year. The Tigers (27-5, 8-4) got eight – count’em, eight – free bases on wild pitches or errant pickoff throws against Bama (15-15, 4-8).

In the 13th, Stevenson moved from first to third on a wild pickoff attempt at second from Bama catcher Taylor Poe, a backup who entered in the ninth. He scored moments later when Bama reliever Thomas Burrows buried a pickoff attempt into the third baseman’s feet. The ball skimmed to the wall beyond third, and Stevenson – the fastest player on the team – easily scored.

“They pinch hit for their catcher,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “Backup didn’t have quite the arm (as the starter). We thought it was something we could expose given the right opportunity. Stevenson’s steal at second was a critical play in the ball game.”

In the 11th inning, Jake Fraley went from first to third on the first errant throw from Poe, and shortstop Alex Bregman went from second to home plate in the fifth inning on a wild pitch.

Godfrey’s woes continue

For a second straight start, freshman pitcher Jake Godfrey couldn’t find the strike zone.

It cost him four runs and might cost him even more.

Godfrey recorded just one out Saturday and has now allowed 11 hits and eight runs in back-to-back starts of 0.1 and 1.2 innings, putting his position as LSU’s No. 3 starter in a precarious situation.

“I don’t know,” Mainieri said when asked about the pitcher. “I’m going to have to sit and talk with (pitching coach) Alan Dunn and evaluate it all (and) what’s going on. At this point, I can’t talk to you about it. I really don’t know what to say.”

Godfrey retired the first batter of the game before letting the next seven reach base. He allowed five hits in the inning and walk two – both to load the bases.

“Just left some balls up. They took advantage. Before you know it, four runs on the board,” he said. “Got to be in the zone early. When you’re not and are leaving balls up, that’s what is going to happen.”

Fraley ’90’ percent

Fraley got the first shot of his career as a designated hitter. And, boy, did he hit.

Fraley went 4-for-6, finishing the game with four straight singles and driving in an insurance run in the 13th inning.

Fraley started for the first time since straining his hamstring in a loss to Kentucky last Sunday. Mainieri said he’s “90 percent” and could have played Friday.

“My feeling was as soon as he’s ready, we’ll give him one more day rest. I told him after the game (Friday) if he felt the same today that he’d be in there at DH,” Mainieri said. “We thought by DHing it would take a little bit of the strain off of his hamstring.”

“Fraley gave us some good at-bats,” the coach continued. “Crushed a ball or two. If it wasn’t for the wind, would have had maybe a home run.”

Close to the cycle again

For a second time in four games, Bregman came within one hurdle of hitting for the cycle. All he needed Saturday was … a homer. Bregman laughs at that.

“Not today,” he said. “Wind was blowing in so hard. I knew I didn’t have a shot to hit one out.”

Bregman sent a triple to right field in the first, had a double in the fifth and singled in the seventh. He scored two runs, too, and drove in a run. He needed a single to hit for the cycle in a win over UL-Lafayette on Tuesday.

Lagniappe

Chris Sciambra got his first start of the season in left field. … Chris Chinea had three hits. He’s now had at least two hits in seven of the last eight games. ... LSU has two players with hitting streak in the double digits: Kade Scivicque (15) and Chinea (10.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.