LSU won its second consecutive and conference-best 11th SEC Tournament title Sunday with a 2-0 victory against top-seeded Florida.
Sean McMullen's two-run home run in the eighth inning broke a scoreless tie and continued the Tigers' power surge that lasted throughout their stint in Hoover, Ala. It was LSU's sixth homer of the tournament, one more than all 12 teams combined to hit last year.
Paul Mainieri remains undefeated in SEC Tournament title game appearances, collecting his fifth championship during his LSU tenure. The Tigers also tossed their program-best 17th shutout of the season.
The win also puts LSU in solid shape to receive one of the top eight national seeds for the NCAA Tournament, which will be announced Sunday night at 8 p.m.
Those LSU bats that dazzled throughout the final two weeks of the season struggled to get going though. The Tigers managed just five hits before McMullen's blast and finished with only six, their lowest total in a game since a 5-1 loss to Alabama on May 11.
But McMullen's blast was enough to get them the victory, and it certainly proved timely. After Jake Fraley singled with two outs and stole second, McMullen turned on a full-count breaking ball left up in the zone and smoked it well over the right field wall.
Reliever Kurt McCune took over on the mound to start the next half-inning and retired the Gators in order. He returned in the ninth but walked the leadoff man. McCune got the grounder he needed in the next at-bat, inducing the 6-4-3 double play.
Harrison Bader then grounded out to first base to end the game and hand LSU the title.
That capped off another dominant outing from the LSU pitching staff.
Alden Cartwright started it all off, though he did live a bit dangerously. He walked a batter in each of his four innings, including three consecutive leadoff walks. But he was bailed out each time, thanks in large part to double plays in each of the third and fourth innings.
Nate Fury replaced him in the fifth and surrendered only one hit through two scoreless innings. Zac Person contributed a perfect seventh before McCune took over in the eighth to record the final six outs.
But it wasn't just the Tigers that were tough to hit.
Florida starter Karsten Whitson, a first-round draft pick out of high school — surrendered only three hits through his six scoreless innings. He did walk three batters though, and hit two more, but he too was helped out by some stellar defense.
Conner Hale was robbed of a hit in the second inning thanks to a diving stop by Gator 3B Josh Tobias. Tyler Moore seemed to have a RBI-double in the fourth, but Bader made a diving catch in deep left-center field to end the inning.
That Gator defense also came through to waste LSU's best scoring opportunity in the sixth inning. Mark Laird and Alex Bregman each singled to start that frame, and after a Fraley sacrifice bunt, McMullen was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Kade Scivicque fell into the trap and grounded into an inning-ending double play.
But the Tiger offense finally came through with that eighth-inning home run to send the team home with to Baton Rouge with that SEC Tournament trophy.
Alex Box Stadium will host the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season…