HOOVER, Ala. — Tyler Spoon squeezed home the tiebreaking run in the top of the eighth inning as Arkansas defeated LSU 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament on Thursday night at Hoover Metropolitan Ballpark.
Razorbacks junior right-hander Ryne Stanek (9-2) prevailed in a showdown with Tigers sophomore right-hander Aaron Nola, who left after seven innings and got a no-decision.
Arkansas (37-19) advanced to the tournament semifinals Saturday afternoon. LSU (49-9), which won its tourney opener 3-0 against Alabama on Wednesday, will face the Crimson Tide again in an elimination game at 3 p.m. Friday.
Joey Bourgeois relieved Nola to start the eighth and allowed a leadoff single to Matt Vinson. After Brian Anderson flied to right, Dominic Ficociello singled Vinson to third.
Nick Rumbelow relieved Bourgeois and Spoon, who had two singles earlier, laid down a bunt up the first-base line. Rumbelow field the ball, but couldn’t get the ball to catcher Ty Ross before Vinson crossed the plate.
The Razorbacks added two runs in the eighth, one each against Kurt McCune and Will Lamarche.
Stanek limited the Tigers to one run on six hits in eight innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Coach Paul Mainieri held Nola out of the series against Ole Miss last weekend to allow him to rest for the post-season run and Nola looked fresh and sharp.
Nola, pitching for the first time since May 10, allowed one run on six hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
LSU got a 1-0 lead in the second and Nola kept it through four innings, allowing one base runner in each inning.
In the fifth No. 9 hitter Jean Ramirez singled and Joe Serrano followed with a double to left-center that tied the score.
Nola yielded a two-out single in the sixth, then finished with his only 1-2-3 inning of the game in the seventh.
LSU scratched out a run against Stanek with two out in the third. Sean McMullen singled and Mark Laird singled him to second.
Alex Bregman hit a grounder to the left of second and shortstop Brett McAfee charged the ball. Instead of throwing to first his flipped the ball to his side trying to get the force and missed second baseman Ficociello and the error allowed McMullen to score.
Arkansas had the worst fielding percentage in the SEC (.962) and LSU had the best (.981). In the Tigers’ two victories at Arkansas last month they didn’t commit any errors and scored three unearned runs as the Razorbacks committed five errors.
Stanek got himself into two-out trouble in the fourth as we walked the bottom third of the LSU order to load the bases before getting McMullen to fly to center.
Mason Katz singled with two out in the fifth, Tyler Moore singled with one out in the sixth and Bregman singled with two out in the seventh, but Stanek stranded all three.