The LSU baseball team’s unexpected run through the SEC Tournament will continue through the end.
LSU upset No. 4 seed Arkansas 2-1 in the SEC Tournament semifinals on Saturday, advancing to the final for the second year in a row. The Tigers will face No. 2 seed Ole Miss in the championship game on Sunday.
Despite a lengthy rain delay between the second and third innings, LSU rode sophomore right-hander Zack Hess for seven stellar innings on Saturday. Hess allowed 1 hit, a solo home run, with 7 strikeouts and 2 walks against an Arkansas lineup that was averaging 7.1 runs per game this season entering Saturday.
After allowing the solo home run to Jared Gates in the third inning, Hess retired the next 10 batters.
This start shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for Hess, who pitched well when LSU faced Arkansas at Alex Box Stadium on May 4. In that game, Hess allowed 4 runs in seven innings off 6 hits with 8 strikeouts in an LSU loss.
Hess needed 112 pitches to get through seven innings in that start, but managed to finish seven innings in 97 pitches on Saturday.
After Hess, LSU turned to sophomore left-hander Nick Bush, who started the Tigers’ SEC Tournament opener against Mississippi State on Tuesday. Bush allowed back-to-back singles in the eighth but stranded the runners, holding LSU’s lead heading into the ninth. Bush set down the Razorbacks 1-2-3 in the ninth to secure the save.
Center fielder Zach Watson supplied the big swing, launching a 2-run home run over the left-field fence in the top of the sixth to give LSU its first lead of the game. The homer was Watson’s sixth of the year and his first since April 3.
One batter later, right fielder Antoine Duplantis singled, chasing Arkansas starter Isaiah Campbell from the game. Campbell struck out 7 in 5-plus innings, allowing 1 hit before LSU broke out in the sixth.
What’s next for LSU baseball?
The Tigers advance to the SEC Tournament championship game against the No. 2 seed Ole Miss Rebels at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday on ESPN2. LSU lost two of three games against the Rebels this season in Oxford, Miss.
The No. 8 seed Tigers will attempt to become the first team to win the SEC Tournament despite not being a top-4 seed since the current format was adopted.