LSU rode a tremendous performance from one of its pair of aces, as Anthony Ranaudo struck out 15 Auburn batters in 8 innings of work to hold the Auburn hitters at bay while LSU batters eked out at-bats to finally chase the Auburn starting pitcher. Then we scored runs on the bullpen to take a commanding lead into the 9th and get the win.
Ranaudo didn't do everything right. He gave up 3 home runs, but he managed to do it when no one was on base. He gave up only 6 hits on the night, along with 1 walk. Only once against did Auburn get two hits in the same inning, and that was in the 8th after Ranaudo was well into triple digits in pitches. But for once it was LSU's opponent who made a baserunning mistake that led to an out on the bases, as the lead runner was cut down at third base following a double with a man on first.
While Auburn hitters struggled to get on base to give their sluggers someone to drive in, LSU hitters had the opposite problem. We had runners on base all night but couldn't get the big hit to break the game open. We slapped single and after and drew 9 walks in the game, but had only 2 extra-base hits and never put up an inning with more than 2 runs. We left runners on base in every inning except the first, when we manufactured a run with a double by Schimpf, a ground out that advanced him to third, and then a sacrifice fly. In the next 7 innings, we would leave a total of 13 runners on base and score 6 runs.
On two separate occasions, Tiger slugger Blake Dean came to the plate with the bases loaded. The first occasion was the 4th inning when LSU plated 2 runs with the bottom of the order and then loaded up the bases for Dean with 2 outs. Dean lined out to left field, ending the inning. The second occasion was in the 6th inning and Dean came up again, but this time with bases loaded and no outs. Dean hit into a double play that scored a run, but effectively ended the opportunity to get a big inning. Lemahieu would drive in one other run that inning, but Auburn was off the hook.
Credit the Auburn starting pitcher, Jon Luke Jacobs, who stayed in trouble most of the night but managed to hold it together and keep LSU to 3 runs through 5 innings. It took him a LOT of pitches to do that though, and LSU got into the Auburn bullpen in the 6th inning with the score tied 3-3. LSU scored 4 runs in the next 3 innings off the Auburn bullpen. The difference in the game was that Ranaudo was able to go 8 innings and protect LSU's bullpen, while Auburn was forced to come in with relief early in the game due to their starter having made a lot of pitches early. While we could never break the game wide open, that's a nice formula for success.
Nolan Cain came on in the 9th, but was not able to shut the door, recording one out but allowing two hits before giving way to Matty Ott. This is where it would have been very helpful to LSU, as it would have meant we could have let Cain try to pitch out of the jam. Instead, with the tying run on deck, we had to bring in the stopper to end the game, which could have a negative impact on the rest of the series.
The series resumes today at 3:00pm, and LSU will be facing its bugaboo, a left-handed starter.