HOOVER Ala. – Sometimes one mistake can change a game.
For LSU baseball, that one mistake on Thursday against No. 2 seed Arkansas in the third round of the SEC Tournament did just that.
In the fourth inning, Alex Milazzo was called for catcher interference with the bases loaded, enabling a run to be scored and the inning to continue. Despite reliever Riley Cooper forcing a fly ball into shallow center field that appeared to end it, the inning continued when Cooper gave up a single that allowed two more runs to be scored and gave Arkansas a three-run lead.
The No. 3-seeded Tigers scored a run in the eighth and ninth inning to narrow the deficit to one, but it wasn’t enough. The Razorbacks won 5-4, advancing to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.
LSU goes to the losers and faces Texas A&M on Friday (3 p.m., SEC Network).
The malfunction call heard all over the world
With a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth and Paul Skenes on the mound, LSU was in a good spot.
But one hit-by-pitch and three hits later, Arkansas had tied the game before recording an out. Skenes retired two of the next three batters, but couldn’t avoid the inning, as he was relieved by Riley Cooper.
That’s when the interference call came and the two-RBI single that followed.
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Hagen Smith and Hunter Hollan perform
Few throwing combinations have slowed down LSU’s vaunted lineup this season.
But Hunter Hollan and Hagen Smith are among that small contingent. The left-handed duo for Arkansas combined for just four earned runs in nine innings against LSU, consistently fooling the Tigers with 17 combined strikeouts.
With the best pitcher in college baseball on the mound for LSU, the Razorbacks had to have the best of Smith and Hollan and they got it.
Riley Cooper keeps LSU in the game
After giving up the single that extended Arkansas’ lead in the fourth inning, Riley Cooper could have opened the floodgates, but he didn’t.
Instead, the left-handed reliever recorded the last of the fourth inning and retired the next 12 of the next 13 batters to maintain LSU’s narrow deficit.
Cooper entered Thursday’s game with a 5.70 ERA against SEC competition. To say his performance against Arkansas was promising would be an understatement.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser. Email him at k[email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: LSU baseball: Tigers lose to Arkansas in SEC Tournament