Texas A&M beats LSU, sets up SEC Tournament rematch with Arkansas

Texas A&M relief pitcher Evan Aschenbeck (from left) celebrates with teammates Max Kaufer and Lucas Kelly, Friday, May 26, 2023, following the Aggies’ 5-4 win over the LSU Tigers in an elimination game at the 2023 SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex in Hoover, Ala.

Hunter Haas hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning to give Texas A&M the lead for good and the Aggies eliminated third-ranked LSU with a 5-4 victory at the SEC Tournament on Friday.

Texas A&M (35-24) advanced to the tournament semifinals where it will play Arkansas on Saturday at noon in Hoover, Ala. The Razorbacks defeated the Aggies 6-5 in 11 innings Wednesday and have won all four games between the teams this year. 

Saturday’s game will be Texas A&M’s fifth in five days at the tournament, where the Aggies are 3-1 this week. Texas A&M won 3-0 over Tennessee on Tuesday and 5-0 over South Carolina on Thursday. 

The Aggies were considered a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament to begin the week, but have likely played themselves into at least an at-large bid for the NCAA field that will be announced Monday. 

The semifinal game will be Arkansas’ third in four days. The Razorbacks (41-15) did not play Friday and practiced at Hoover High School. 

The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to Sunday’s championship game. The semifinal and championship rounds are single elimination at the SEC Tournament. 

Florida will play either Vanderbilt or Alabama in the other semifinal game Saturday. Vanderbilt and Alabama are scheduled to play in an elimination game Friday night. 

Haas’ home run capped a four-run seventh inning for the Aggies. Ryan Targac walked and Austin Bost doubled to start the inning, and Targac scored on a sacrifice fly by Brett Minnich. 

Targac came back to the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh, but struck out to strand three. 

Three runs in the inning were charged to LSU right-hander Griffin Herring. Haas’ home run came on the second and final pitch thrown by right-hander Sam Dutton.

LSU (43-15) lost for the second consecutive day after falling 5-4 to Arkansas on Thursday. The Tigers played the game without one of their best hitters, third baseman Tommy White.

Both teams scored in the second inning on an RBI single by LSU’s Brayden Jobert and an RBI double by Targac. 

The Tigers scored once in the fourth and fifth innings on RBI doubles by Jobert and Hayden Travinski. LSU had several chances to increase its lead, but the Tigers went 3 for 20 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12. 

Jobert popped up against left-hander Evan Aschenbeck to strand runners at the corners in the ninth inning. LSU had the tying run at third base with one out.

Left-hander Will Johnston allowed 3 runs, 8 hits and 3 walks, and struck out 7 during a 6-inning start for the Aggies. Aschenbeck pitched three innings in relief. 

LSU right-handed starter Ty Floyd allowed 1 run, 3 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 7 in 5 innings, but the Tigers’ bullpen was ineffective to continue a weeks-long trend.