HOOVER, Ala. — Cody Henry’s sharply hit ground ball nailed LSU pitcher Austin Bain in the shin.
What he did to Alabama’s hitter hurt so much more.
“Kid was tremendous,” coach Paul Mainieri said.
Bain pitched 6.2 scoreless innings of relief — retiring 13 straight at one point and breaking out of three bases-loaded jams — and the Tigers bullpen had 12.2 innings of shutout ball to deliver a 6-4 win in 13 innings Saturday over Alabama.
Ranked in the top five in all of the major polls, LSU (27-5, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) got its first conference series sweep of the season, scored a run off a wild pitch and another on an errant pickoff attempt to survive another tense extra-innings ballgame against the pesky Crimson Tide (15-15, 4-8).
LSU won an 8-5, 16-inning series-opening game Thursday night after blowing a whopping three saves.
The Tigers didn’t blow anything Saturday afternoon on a picturesque day at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Andrew Stevenson scored the go-ahead run in the 13th after moving from first to third on a wild throw on a steal attempt, and he scored on an errant pickoff attempt at third. Earlier in the game, shortstop Alex Bregman went from second to home on a wild pitch.
“I think we were very aggressive on the basepaths,” Bregman said. “When we put the pressure on, their pitchers were starting to worry about us on the bases.”
You want more wildness? This game — and this series — had it.
LSU had to throw out Alabama’s potential winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning to just extend the thing. Stevenson one-hopped Cody Henry’s line drive to short center to a waiting Kade Scivicque, who made the tag of Kyle Overstreet, trying to score from second, about 4 feet down the third-base line.
“It was do or die,” Stevenson quipped afterward.
LSU had a runner thrown out earlier in the game, too, and the Tigers won despite getting just one out from starting pitcher Jake Godfrey.
It was another crazy one between two teams that played a total of 38 innings in three games that spanned 47 hours. The three games lasted a combined 12 hours, 36 minutes.
“This is what I do for a living,” a spent Mainieri said afterward before signing autographs for a line of children.
“It’s thrilling, it’s excruciating, it’s exciting, it’s exhausting,” he said. “Couldn’t be more proud of a group of kids. (They) just kept persevering.”
The Tigers got a three-hit day from Bregman — he was a homer shy of hitting for the cycle — and Jake Fraley, returning to the lineup after a hamstring injury, finished the game with four straight singles.
The last one of those scored Chris Chinea for an insurance run in the 13th inning, and closer Jesse Stallings capped his career-high 4.2 innings on the mound by slamming the door in the 13th to get the win.
Alden Cartwright struck out three in 1.1 innings, too, and LSU’s bullpen rebounded from those three blown saves Thursday — and hiccups in the two previous games against UL-Lafayette and Kentucky.
“Those people that have questions about our bullpen might have had them answered there,” Mainieri said.
With LSU short on relievers, Bain, a freshman out of Dutchtown High, was the hero — his latest lengthy road relief outing. He threw 3.1 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball in a loss at Arkansas two weeks ago.
“I knew he could give us four (innings), but 6.2 is incredible because we didn’t have much of a bullpen today,” Cartwright said. “He was pounding the fastball in the zone and flipping changeups.”
In this one, he got the Tigers out of three pressure-packed, bases-loaded jams.
He entered for a struggling Godfrey, taking over with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning — LSU already down 4-0. He retired the final two batters of the inning.
In the sixth, he hit three straight Alabama batters on three pitches to load the bases. He got out of the mess. In the seventh, Mikey White lead off the inning with a double, and Bain issued a one-out walk before Henry’s two-out infield single ricocheted off the pitcher’s foot to load the bases.
Bain struck out Will Haynie to end the inning and elicit a fiery celebration from the LSU dugout and the estimated 500-plus purple-clad fans at the Hoover Met.
“Nut-cutting time,” Bain said afterward with a smile.
Bain mowed down the Tide before those innings, pitching three straight perfect frames and retiring those 13 consecutive batters. He retired 15 of the first 16 he faced, too — a strong outing from a kid that began preseason practice vying for a midweek starting spot before falling ill.
“He’s been getting better each time out,” Mainieri said. “We’ve been excited about him for a long time now.”
The coach delivered a message to Bain before the game: Be ready for an extended outing, he told the pitcher.
Boy, he got one — 93 pitches later.
Said Bain: “I was ready.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.