On paper, this was supposed to be one of LSU's better OOC matchups of the year. A strength vs strength battle between LSU's super hot bats and Tulane's great pitching, including a starter with the 2nd best ERA in the NCAA. But it was not to be.
Patrick Duester, Tulane's starter, looked to be the real deal on paper. An intimdating 6' 6" RHP with a 9/20 BB/K ratio and an absurd 0.34 ERA. However, LSU lineup was unfazed and struck relentlessly throughout the night. Each after the first had LSU score in a variety of ways, showing just how versatile the Tiger's offense has become this year. In the 2nd inning, LSU used base running and sacrifices to get a Stevenson leadoff single home. 2 runs in the 3rd were scored on back-to-back-to-back singles by Bregman, Hale, and Scivicque followed by an extremely patient at-bat by Jake Fraley to draw a bases loaded walk for another run. In the 4th, Mark Laird used his amazing speed to turn a misplayed ground ball into the right corner into an inside the park home run.
4 singles got 3 runs in the 5th. The only way LSU didn't score on the night was by traditional HR. Every starter except the coming back down to earth Chris Sciambra either crossed the plate or had a RBI. The Greenies had no answer for LSU's attack, except possibly to throw some chin music. Tulane pitching had 5 HBP on the night, including a nasty shot in the 7th that caught Scivicque's right elbow and caused him to leave the game in the middle of the at-bat (He's scheduled for an MRI today). Mainieri did his best to sub out the starters as the lead grew ridiculous, at one point putting in Grayson Byrd, who started the night filling in for a sick Christian Ibarra at the 1B coaches box.
The lovely beat down of the Greenies wasn't without problems, though. Maineri had said before the game he expected Russell Reynolds to go 5 or 6 innings, so I can only imagine he was disappointed to have to pull him early in the 3rd. Tulane had done their best to keep pace with LSU early on, scoring the game's first run and keeping the lead within reach. In relief, Hunter Newman and Doug Norman kept the Greenies silent through the middle innings, giving up no runs and 1 hit combined through 4.1 IP as the lead continued to grow. Austin Bain started the 8th for a brief warmup session, handing the ball to Collin Strall with 2 outs and a man on. After giving up a single, Richard Carthon tagged a ball over the head of a subbed in Bryce Jordan in right, giving his enough time for a 2 run triple that included Carthon tripping on a bump in the carpet between 2nd and 3rd. On the relay, a subbed in Kramer Robertson playing SS put way to much heat on his throw and missed 3B so high and wide he tagged a kid sitting 6 rows up in the stands, causing Carthon to be awarded home. Bouman and Person would take care of the 9th, giving up another run on a sac fly that might have been overturned on replay (TV showed the runner missing home plate on his slide) but the game had long been over.
It was great to see the offense in this relentless mode. So often, especially in midweek games, we see LSU get a decent lead early and then shut down as if the game is already won. Maybe it was the motivation of beating down the Greenies, but I hope this can be channeled again for later use. The search for a 4th starter and some consistent middle relief continues, but it's getting to the point where I'm starting to believe that this is just where the pitching staff is going to be this year. Hopefully I'm wrong and some steady hands emerge, though the unbelievable production from the offense makes this less and less of an issue with each game.