Tigers take down Tide

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

HOOVER – The Louisiana State Tigers, led by pitcher Clay Dirks, dominated the University of Alabama for seven of the game’s nine innings Wednesday.

UA used a homer in the eighth, its first sign of life, and then capitalized on a passed ball in the bottom half of the ninth inning to bring them to within one run.

The SEC Baseball Tournament’s top seed, the Tide was unable to push the winning run across the plate from first base and as a result will have an early game this afternoon.

The Tide lost 4-3 to the Bayou Bengals and will play the loser of the Arkansas-Ole Miss matchup this afternoon at 1 p.m. in the tournament’s elimination game.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Tide put a runner on first courtesy of a fielder’s choice. With two outs and a two-run lead, LSU second baseman J.T. Wise booted a grounder, allowing Spencer Pennington to reach and Evan Bush to advance to third. A wild pitch from Will Harris allowed Bush to score from third, cutting the UA deficit to 4-3. Matt Bentley grounded out to first to end the game.

One inning earlier with a 1-0 count, pinch hitter Kent Matthes placed a Dirks fastball in the parking lot, scoring Ryan Rhoden and thrusting the Tide back into a game that, for the most part, they had been spectators of.

“That was (first-year assistant coach) Joe Raccuia’s idea,” said Jim Wells, coach of the Crimson Tide. “He said, ‘How about giving Matthes a shot?’ I said why not. Maybe he should have gotten a few more at-bats.”

Dirks left the game with seven strikeouts, one shy of his SEC career mark of eight against Mississippi State earlier in the season.

LSU pushed ahead 2-0 in the top half of the fifth after Bruce Sprowl lifted a pop fly deep enough into left field to score Jordan Mayer from third. Buzzy Haydel drove his first career home run over the left field fence to lead off the ninth, and the Tigers went up 4-2.

The first five batters for the Tide were a combined 0-for-17 with seven strikeouts.

“When you look at us and the middle of our lineup, there is a lot of zeros,” said Wells. “A lot of things have to be done before we can win a regional.”