HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Southeastern Conference powers Vanderbilt and LSU finally faced each other, and it took a couple of extra innings to settle the matter.
Pinch-hitter Chris Sciambra's single in the top of the 11th inning scored Jared Foster and lifted the second-seeded Tigers to a 5-4 victory over No. 1 Vandy on Sunday in the SEC tournament championship game.
It was the Tigers' first hit in 6 2-3 innings against Vandy relievers. LSU (52-9) claimed its SEC-best 10th tournament title in a battle of teams that figure to be among the favorites to contend for a national title.
"What a tremendous ballgame. Wow," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "Win or lose, it was just a great, great ball game between two teams fighting their hearts out to win. A lot at stake, not just the SEC tournament championship but you've got No. 1 against the No. 2 team in the country.
"We didn't get a chance to play each other during the regular season. Hopefully we'll meet again."
That rematch would have to come at the College World Series.
The Commodores (51-9), who might be the No. 1 national seed, have lost in the SEC championship game the past three years and are 0-4 since winning in 2007.
Foster was hit by a pitch from reliever Brian Miller with one out and stole second. Sciambra, batting for Andrew Stevenson, singled up the middle and the throw to the plate was off line.
His eighth RBI of the season was a huge one, especially for a player who sustained a fractured vertebra in his neck last season after crashing into the wall.
"I never had any doubts in my mind if I'd be back playing again this year," Sciambra said.
LSU closer Chris Cotton (4-1) got three straight groundouts in the ninth. Cotton, a former walk-on who had three saves in the tournament, pitched the final 2 2-3 innings and didn't allow a hit or walk in four appearances to earn MVP honors
Mainieri said he would have taken Cotton out if the game had remained tied.
It was a record fifth extra-inning game of the tournament.