Baseball Completes Sweep of Highly Ranked USC, 6-3
BATON ROUGE — LSU withstood two long rain delays to capture a 6-3 victory over ninth-ranked South Carolina Sunday in Alex Box Stadium. The victory completed a three-game Southeastern Conference sweep for LSU over the Gamecocks.
The Tigers will play their final non-conference home game of the season Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. CT as LSU will face UL-Lafayette in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU, which won its fifth straight game, improved to 28-16-1 and 9-11-1 in the SEC. South Carolina fell to 31-14 and 11-10 in the league with the loss.
The series victory was also LSU’s first SEC sweep at home since the Tigers won three straight over Tennessee in 2003 in Alex Box Stadium. LSU’s last overall SEC sweep came in 2006 at Auburn.
“I don’t know if I can come up with the right words to express how fulfilled I feel about this weekend,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “It’s so hard to win a game in this league. To play a team ranked in the top 10 and to win three games against them in one weekend is such a tremendous feeling.”
Right fielder Derek Helenihi recorded three hits in the contest and launched his second home run of the season. Shortstop DJ LeMahieu connected on a homer in the fourth inning, his fifth of the season, and outfielder Jared Mitchell hammered a deep fly in the eighth, his third on the year and second of the series.
Left-hander Ryan Verdugo (7-2) notched the victory. The southpaw fired six strong innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs. Paul Bertuccini hurled three shutout innings in relief to preserve the win.
“What can you say about Paul Bertuccini?” Mainieri added. “He just gets the most out of his ability. He’s a gutsy kid, and you know when he’s out there, he’s going to give everything he’s got.”
An RBI single by third baseman James Darnell in the first inning gave the Gamecocks an early 1-0 lead.
The Tigers struck back in the bottom of the second to knot it up at 1-1 as Helenihi blasted a solo homer to left field.
LSU broke the tie in the fourth to take a two-run advantage. First baseman Matt Clark hammered an opposite-field double to left field, and LeMahieu drove him in with a two-run dinger to left-center field. The Tigers led 3-1.
The Tigers added to their lead in the fifth to make it 5-1. Second baseman Ryan Schimpf led off with a triple down the right field line and was driven in on a base hit by third baseman Michael Hollander. After the Hollander stole second, Helenihi knocked him in two batters later with a single to right.
South Carolina gained two runs in the sixth to reduce the deficit to 5-3 before a 50 minute rain delay. The game resumed, but was halted a second time by rain in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After a delay of 1:16, Mitchell provided the Tigers with an insurance run in the eighth as the sophomore launched a solo shot to give LSU a 6-3 lead.
Bertuccini struck out the side to finish the game and earn his second save this season.
LSU 6, South Carolina 3 (Apr 27, 2008 at Baton Rouge, La.)
South Carolina…… 100 002 000 – 3 8 0 (31-14, 11-10 SEC)
LSU…………………. 010 220 01X – 6 10 0 (28-16-1, 9-11-1 SEC)
Pitchers: South Carolina – Blake Cooper; Nick Godwin(6). LSU – Ryan Verdugo; Paul Bertuccini(7).
Win-Ryan Verdugo(7-2) Save-Paul Bertuccini(2) Loss-Blake Cooper(5-4) T-2:18 A-7031
HR SC – Phil Disher (15).
HR LSU – Derek Helenihi (2); DJ LeMahieu (5); Jared Mitchell (3).
Weather: 77 degrees; cloudy and rainy
Actual attendance: 2,187
Game delayed 0:50 due to weather in the top of the 6th inning.
Game delayed 1:16 due to weather in the bottom of the 8th inning.