In a span of three innings Sunday, the LSU baseball team scored six runs on just two hits.
Although it got a little hairy late, the Tigers rode those innings to a 7-6 win against Georgia, clinching a series sweep at Alex Box Stadium.
"We did what we needed to do," said senior shortstop Kramer Robertson, who scored three of those six crucial runs. "It wasn’t pretty, but we did what we needed to do to win the game."
The Georgia pitching staff combined to walk 21 batters and hit 12 with pitches in the series, and a bulk of those came in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings Sunday.
Five LSU runners reached base courtesy of a free pass in the fifth, when LSU (16-5, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) scored two runs on one infield hit and left the bases loaded.
The Tigers had the bases loaded again in the sixth after Georgia's Tucker Bradley plunked three straight batters to start the inning. LSU brought home one run on a sacrifice fly that inning.
LSU brought two more runs home with the help of an error in the seventh. Cole Freeman finished LSU's scoring effort when he lined an RBI single through the right side of the infield to snap a string of 14 consecutive plate appearances.
The Tigers would end up needing those runs.
Things got a little tense in the ninth when LSU handed the ball and a three-run lead to Caleb Gilbert, who's serving as LSU’s closer while senior Hunter Newman heals from a back injury. On the strength of three straight hits to open the inning, the Bulldogs (8-13, 0-3) scored two runs and pushed the tying run all the way to third base.
But Gilbert finished the mission. He defused the rally when he blew a fastball past cleanup hitter Michael Curry to record his second save in as many games.
“Today, he was throwing 92 to 94 miles an hour and throwing his breaking ball for strikes,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “They just put the bat on the ball a few times and got some hits. You’ve got to give them credit. ...
"But the bottom line for a guy in the ninth inning is it doesn’t matter how many hits you give up, how many runs you give up; you’ve just got to get the last out before they tie the game or go ahead. He did that. The three strikes he threw to Curry were the best … pitches he could possibly make.”
The Tigers got a great start from freshman right-hander Eric Walker (3-0), who struck out eight and did not walk a batter in his SEC debut. Walker said he saw enough of how the Bulldogs hit Alex Lange and Jared Poché to know he would not be able to get away with many mistakes Sunday.
“I was able to locate my fastball well enough to keep them off-balance and then mix in some changeups and curveballs,” Walker said. “It was kind of attacking them with a mixture of pitches instead of fastballs over the plate.”
His lone costly mistake came when he caught too much of the plate with a 3-1 pitch to Georgia No. 9 hitter Will Proctor. Proctor launched the pitch over the fence to give Georgia a momentary 2-1 lead in the fifth.
Walker threw a career-high 108 pitches as he lasted six innings. His final pitch missed the bat of Georgia first baseman L.J. Talley, stranding a pair of Bulldogs and preserving a one-run lead.
“I thought Eric Walker was outstanding,” Mainieri said.
The Tigers host Southeastern Louisiana at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.