May 24, 2009


CBI Live
Tigers top Commodores to take SEC crown


By Jimmy Jones

Special to 


HOOVER, Ala. - They split the two games they played in the SEC Tournament, but LSU won the one that counted the most on Sunday to win the championship game for the second consecutive year.
The No. 2-ranked Tigers came into the tournament winners of nine of their last ten series, including seven straight SEC road series dating back to May of 2008 and came all the back to extend their winning series streak with a 6-2 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Tiger starter Ryan Byrd (right) showed the VU hitters three pitches in the game, slow, slower, and slowest, to baffle the overeager youngsters through seven innings to pick up the win.
"You just have to give credit to LSU and [pitcher] Ryan Byrd," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "He did what he had to do to keep us off balance. We really could not get anything going offensively, and I think that was the story of the game. Obviously, I did not think that six or seven runs would be insurmountable, but he did enough to keep us off balance. [Relief pitcher] Buzzy Haydel did a nice job, too. Hand it to LSU, sometimes when things are not going well, the other side has a lot to do with it, and that was the case today."
VU entered the game hitting .333 as a team with four homers, six doubles and 20 RBI in three games.
Nick Christiani (5-6), the most experienced pitcher on the VU staff, was making his fourth appearance in the championship game dating back to 2006. He was charged with the loss after giving up three runs on four hits in four innings of work with two strikeouts and a walk.
The Tigers opened a 1-0 lead in the first on a Leon Landry double and an RBI grounder by Blake Dean.
They made it 3-0 in the fourth when Micah Gibbs hit a one-out double and scored on a base hit by tournament MVP Mikie Mahtook. He promptly stole second, advanced to third on an infield hit by Jared Mitchell and scored on a fly ball by D.J. LaMahieu.
Steven Liddle breathed some life into the Commodore offense with a solo shot, his tenth of the year, in the bottom of the fourth.
The Purple and Gold tacked on two runs in the fifth and one in the seventh and VU had no answer. VU centerfielder Jonathan White made a spectacular running catch off the bat of Dean on a Sean Bierman pitch in deep right center to prevent a wider gap in the score.
Curt Casali (above) hit a solo homer to left in the seventh cut the lead to 6-2 but the Dores couldn't string anything more together the rest of the way.
White (right) was 7 for 16 with two RBI in the tourney. He made the most of both RBI as the first was the game-winner against South Carolina and the second concluded their game against Arkansas. He has now hit safely in seven consecutive games.
Andrew Giobbi finished the tournament 8 of 15 with two homers, a double and four RBI. He was joined by Liddle and Mike Minor on the All-Tournament team.

(photos by Jimmy Jones)