Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
HOOVER, Ala. (Univ. of Ark.) - Christian Ibarra went 3-for-4 with two RBI, while five LSU pitchers combined to allow one unearned run and one hit as No. 2 LSU defeated No. 15 Arkansas, 3-1, in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.
The Razorbacks fall to 37-20 on the season, while LSU is now 51-9 on the year. Arkansas now waits to find out its NCAA Tournament fate. The 16 NCAA Regional host sites will be announced at 8 p.m. on Sunday on the ESPN BottomLine. The full field of 64 will be announced on Monday at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.
LSU reliever Will LaMarche (2-0) earned the win out of the bullpen. LaMarche worked two scoreless innings and had a strikeout. Chris Cotton picked up his 15th save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning.
Arkansas reliever Brandon Moore (1-4) took the loss after giving up two runs on two hits in a third of an inning.
Neither starter factored into the decision. Arkansas starter Randall Fant worked 4.2 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out one. LSU starter Hunter Newman surrendered one unearned run and struck out three in four hitless innings.
Tyler Spoon had the only hit of the game for Arkansas, while Jake Wise scored the Razorbacks' only run of the day. The Razorbacks drew five walks and also had a batter hit by a pitch.
Ibarra had three hits and drove in two runs to lead LSU at the plate. Jared Foster was 2-for-3 with a run scored, while Tyler Moore was 1-for-2 with a RBI.
Arkansas struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the third without the benefit of a hit. Wise drew a leadoff walk and then moved to second on a bad throw by the LSU pitcher on a pickoff attempt. A sacrifice bunt moved Wise to third and he came home to score on a dropped fly ball by the LSU second baseman.
LSU grabbed a 2-1 lead with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth. Ibarra tied the game with a base hit to left and Moore brought home the go-ahead run when he reached on a fielder's choice to shortstop as Brett McAfee tried to throw home to retire Raph Rhynes, but the throw was late.
The Tigers added an insurance run in the top of the seventh as Ibarra drove in his second run of the game with a RBI double to the left-center field gap, scoring Foster from third.
Arkansas was unable to get another going offensively in the final three innings as LSU held on for the 3-1 win to advance to the championship game on Sunday.