HOOVER, Ala. -- LSU extended its winning streak to 18 games with an 8-2 win over Vanderbilt in SEC Tournament action Thursday night at Regions Park.
The streaking Tigers improved to 41-16-1, while the Commodores fell to 38-19 on the year. The loss snapped VU's five-game winning streak over LSU, while it also improved the Tigers record to 3-0 against the Commodores in the tourney. It also snapped VU's six game winning streak in the tournament dating back to last year's championship run.
Parker Hanks solo homer in the third gave the Commodores a 1-0 lead. It was his fourth homer of the season and first since blasting a pinch-hit one against Mississippi State on April 11.
LSU took advantage of two Vanderbilt errors and used four hits in the fifth to take a 4-1 lead. Leon Landry singled to right with runners on the corners and one out. He moved all the way to third as two runs scored, one via a throwing error by Dominic de la Osa in an attempt to throw a runner out at third. Ryan Schimpf tripled to right on a ball that de la Osa misread allowing Landry to score. Schimpf also scored on the play as Alex Feinberg's relay throw to third went into dead territory.
Helenihi's three-run homer in the sixth extended the LSU lead to 7-1 and knocked VU starter Caleb Cotham out of the game.
Cotham was cruising through four with five strikeouts and one hit allowed. He ended up giving up seven runs on eight hits in five innings of work with five strikeouts and a walk in the loss to drop to 7-5.
"It was a tough one for us today," said Cotham. "LSU really broke the game open in the fifth and sixth innings. We never really answered their rally but we have to come back and play really well from here on out."
Hanks added a sacrifice fly RBI to cut the lead to 7-2 in the seventh. LSU starter Blake Martin ended up giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits with a strikeout and three walks in seven innings of work to improve to 5-3 on the year.
Schimpf added a sacrifice fly RBI in the ninth to close out the scoring at 8-2.
Mark Lamm came on in relief in the sixth and pitched four innings of one hit ball with four strikeouts and a walk. He gave up one run in the ninth.
"We played a very good team tonight," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "The story of the game was the two big innings they had against us. I though the turning point of the game was the hit by pitch. They got hits all night long including a two-strike homerun. Some positives from the game included our pitching towards the end of the game but now we have to go out and play better tomorrow."
The Commodores will now move to the loser's bracket where they will face South Carolina tomorrow at 3 p.m. The Gamecocks are 38-20 after beating Florida, 11-3, earlier today in an elimination contest. Junior right-hander Nick Christiani will throw for the Commodores, while the USC will counter with right-hander Blake Cooper.