HOOVER, Ala. – Freshman Eric Walker allowed one run in 7-2/3 innings and LSU held on to beat Arkansas 4-2 on Sunday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game.
The Tigers (43-17) cruised into the game before claiming their 12th SEC tournament title and sixth under coach Paul Mainieri. They outscored their four opponents by 35-5 and head into NCAA regionals on an 11-game winning streak.
The Razorbacks (42-17) fell to 0-4 in SEC championship games.
Walker (7-1) struck out eight and allowed five hits and one walk for the Tigers before leaving with nobody on in the eighth. His performance helped ensure it didn’t matter that LSU’s bats finally settled down after scoring in double digits the first three games at Hoover Met.
The Razorbacks threatened in the ninth off closer Hunter Newman, scoring one run before leaving the bases loaded. He earned his 10th save.
Arkansas managed a walk and a hit batter, then got Eric Cole’s RBI single up the middle. Newman intentionally walked Chad Spanberger _ who had five homers in the tournament _ to load the bases with two outs for Luke Bonfield. Bonfield hit a grounder to shortstop to end the game.
Spanberger was named tournament MVP.
Arkansas starter Kevin Kopps (3-1) allowed three runs, one earned, in three innings.
The Tigers scored three runs in the fourth after loading the bases with nobody out.
They added another run in the sixth on Nick Coomes’ sacrifice fly to score Antoine Duplantis. The run stood after a replay appeared to show that Duplantis’ hand touched the plate an instant before he was tagged by catcher Grant Koch.
Tempers flared earlier after Dominic Fletcher’s slide into second base hit fielder Cole Freeman. Arkansas players and Mainieri came out of the dugouts before things calmed down.
Duplantis doubled, singled and scored twice for LSU. Coomes drove in a pair of runs on the sac fly and a bases loaded walk.
Cole drove in two runs and Fletcher had a pair of hits for Arkansas.