An LSU team with this many fresh faces is going to take some time to gel, as so many of them have to adjust to playing at the collegiate level. Luckily for LSU, Jordan Romero only needed one at-bat to get ready.
Jared Poché's opening outing wasn't exactly one to write home about. 3 runs and 4 hits over 6.2 innings pitched at least gave LSU enough to stay close with the Bearcats, but Poché struggled to knock off the early season rust. He got behind in counts often, giving up 3 walks, only recording 5 Ks, and throwing 93 pitches before being pulled for relief. Granted, holding a team to 3 runs should be enough to get you a win, but the Tiger's young bats took some time to wake up. After both teams scored their first runs off errors, Cincinnati would strike in 7th on a bases loaded liner to the gap in left center for a 2 RBI double by Treg Haberkorn. LSU would slowly chip away at the deficit, using some small ball tactics to move a Kramer Robertson lead off double home in the 8th. Cincinnati's first reliever JT Perez ran out of gas at just the right time as the Tigers evened the score in the bottom of the 9th by putting teo on with walks and then scoring with a pinch hit RBI single by Jordan Romero in his first D1 at bat.
In the 10th, Cincinnati immediately responded by taking advantage of a fading Hunter Newman relief effort to load the bases before LSU brought in Parker Bugg. A diving stop by Robertson at 2B gave up a run, but it was enough to prevent further damage on the play. The Bearcats scored one more on a bases loaded walk and left LSU with some work to do in the bottom frame. The Tigers got the gift of a Bryce Jordan lead off HBP and slowly moved him home, scoring from 3B on a Brody Wofford RBI single lined into right field. With two Tigers on and two out, Cincinnati brought in relief arm Dalton Lehnen who walked the bases loaded and then plunked Cole Freeman to allow LSU to tie the game. The 11th was quiet as LSU's Alden Cartwright and Cincinnati's David Orndorff worked quickly through the lineups until the bottom of the 12th. O'Neal Lochridge started the inning with a ground ball up the middle for a single, then used a Balk and a ground out to 1B to move to 3B. With 2 outs, it again came to the LSU-Eunice call up Jordan Romero to make the play. A lame duck nothing pop up that landed exactly out of reach in short right field was exactly what LSU needed to bring the run home and win opening night in a walkoff, 6-5.
It was the sort of performance you almost expected on opening night with a roster this fresh faced. Going forward, the Tigers will need to do a better job taking advantage of their opportunities as Cincinnati had 4 errors and LSU left 12 runners on base. It was an ok night defensively but there were some flashes with Antoine Duplantis showing off a strong arm in RF and Roberston showing great effort at 2B, despite playing with his jaw injuries. You don't want to make judgements off of one game, but Michael Papierski better wake up his bat this weekend, because Jordan Romero is hot on his heels to take that job right now.
The series continues this afternoon at 2pm on SECN+, as Alex Lange returns to action against a still unnamed Cincinnati starter.