By Bill Franques, LSU Senior Associate Communications Director
HOOVER, Ala. – Texas A&M shortstop Hunter Haas launched a three-run homer Friday in the bottom of the seventh inning to erase a 3-2 deficit, as the Aggies posted a 5-4 win over LSU in an SEC Tournament elimination game at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
LSU, which is 43-15 this season, will return to action next Friday in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers are projected to play host to an NCAA Regional in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. Regional sites will be announced by the NCAA at 7:30 p.m. CT Sunday.
The entire 64-team NCAA Tournament field will be announced during a selection show at 11 a.m. CT on Monday on ESPN2.
With Friday’s win, Texas A&M improved to 35-24 and will face Arkansas at 12 p.m. CT Saturday in an SEC Tournament semifinal.
“There’s a lot to be gained from being here, and we’ll use that to get ready for the NCAA Tournament,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “I think our team has had a great regular season, to put ourselves in one of those spots where we’re going to be one of the eight that have an opportunity to host a regional and then host a super regional if we’re able to win the regional. It’s a credit to the players.
“We’ll get back to work when we get home and get ready to go for next Friday.”
LSU led 3-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Aggies struck for four runs to take a 5-3 lead. Designated hitter Brett Minnich delivered a sacrifice fly to narrow the gap to 3-2, and after a walk to catcher Max Kaufer, Haas launched a three-run homer to give the Aggies their first lead of the game.
The Tigers scored a run in the top of the ninth on a wild pitch by Texas A&M reliever Evan Aschenbeck, but with runners and first and third and two outs, he retired the final two LSU hitters to end the game.
Aschenbeck (8-1) was credited with the win, as he worked the final 3.0 innings and limited LSU to one run on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
LSU reliever Griffin Herring (3-2) was charged with the loss, as he allowed three runs on one hit in 1.1 innings with two walks and no strikeouts.
LSU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on an RBI single by third baseman Brayden Jobert. The Aggies tied the game in the bottom of the second on consecutive doubles by centerfielder Jordan Thompson and by leftfielder Ryan Targac.
The Tigers led 2-1 in the fourth after an RBI double by Jobert, and LSU extended the advantage to 3-1 in the fifth on a double by catcher Hayden Travinski.
LSU starting pitcher Ty Floyd delivered a solid outing, limiting the Aggies to one run on three hits in 5.0 innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.
“We’ve got to get our health right, and then get the players’ minds right because playoff baseball is one pitch at a time,” Johnson said. “It’s not the team with the best players, it’s the team that plays the best, which we’ve done a lot of this year. I trust the guys that we have on the field. I trust them a lot, and I trust their care level and their character. I’m excited to get back to work with them after we get them a day or two off.”