All credit where it's due, Cincinnati came out on Opening Night and punched LSU in the mouth and had LSU on the ropes for most of the game. The Bearcats looked far and away better than their 2015 squad that was only worth 15 wins. It just so happened that on Friday night LSU fought tooth and nail to get up off the mat and Jordan Romero walked it off on a bloop hit.
Jared Poche' actually had a really great night on Friday, after 6 IP he had hung five batters up to dry and only issued one hit and walk. And the one run Cincinnati had scored was unearned. It was in the 7th where everything came crashing down. In the inning, Poche' gave up, in order, a double, a walk, a single, an intentional walk, and a double, allowing the Bearcats to take a 3-1 lead.
That's the other thing. For seven innings, LSU's offensive well ran dry. The Tigers' only run was unearned and came in the 3rd. These things are bound to happen when you're playing 8 new starters, but for eight innings Tigers fans sat with a bleak outlook on the rest of the year.
LSU was able to jimmy the door open when Kramer Robertson doubled to lead off the 8th, and was advanced using the "outs for runs tactic". In the 9th, Papierski and Freeman both drew walks, with the former being pinch ran for by Brennan Breaux, who scored on Jordan Romero's pinch hit single up the middle, sending the game to extras.
Cincy came back immediately, pushing Hunter Newman into a bases loaded jam with no outs. Parker Bugg was brought in to put out the fire, but the cards were too stacked in Cincinnati's favor. A single and walk put two on the board. But LSU once again roared back. After Bryce Jordan drew his first hit by pitch of the weekend, he was advanced to third by dual groundouts before scoring off of Brody Wofford's single. Wofford was moved to second when O'Neal Lochridge was hit by pitch and then third via Antoine Duplantis walked on a full count. Wofford scored the equalizing run when Cole Freeman was also hit by pitch. There's a theme here.
After both teams stranded runners in the 11th, LSU forced Cincinatti to go three up three down in the 12th. In the home half of the inning, Lochridge lead off with a single then advanced on a balk, moving to third on a ground out by Antoine Duplantis. Then Jordan Romero took a full count before blooping a single into the no mans land of shallow right field along the foul line, scoring the winning run.
Saturday was...just...Alex Freaking Lange man. 6.2 innings with 9 strikeouts on one hit and three walks. That, by Alex Lange standards, was a pretty okay showing for his first start of the year. The Bearcats were simply outmatched and Caleb Gilbert and Jessie Stallings made sure that Lange's goose egg on the scoreboard would hold.
Offensively it was fairly ho-hum, but with Alex Lange four runs can be stretched to go a long way. Fraley tripled and scored on a wild pitch, Deichmann homered, and in the fifth Robertson scored on a Beau Jordan sac fly and Fraley got on via a fielder's choice, scoring on a single by Bryce Jordan after stealing second. That grand slam-proofed the lead and also ended up being three more runs than needed.
LSU used a middle inning explosion to win Sunday 12-4 to take the series sweep. Cincinnati put up two in the first via a double and sac fly, and LSU answered with one run off of a bases loaded walk where all four parties (Fraley, Beau Jordan, Romero, and Adams) were walked.
In the fourth O'Neal Lochridge put one into the Left Field Landing, scoring Duplantis who reached on a throwing error. Fraley lead off the fifth with a triple, and behind him Bryce Jordan was hit by a pitch for the THIRD time this weekend followed by a Romero walk. Bryce Adams made Cincinnati pay by ABSOLUTELY DESTROYING the baseball. Remains are said to have landed in various locations on the U High baseball field. For good measure, Antoine Duplantis singled and stole, scoring on a ground out by Lochridge and single by Freeman.
But LSU wasn't done. In the sixth Cincinnati put up two runs via two solo shots. Fraley answered by singling and scoring on a Beau Jordan tater. On the very next pitch, Jordan Romero went deep.
Akron transfer John Valek III got the start, and had a decent day up until the dual solo homers in the sixth, striking out seven and issuing no walks. The bullpen Voltron of Reynolds, Normal, McKay, and Devall carried LSU to finish out the sweep, with Reynolds striking out three of the five he faced.
Defensively, it was par for the course for opening weekend, with the Tigers committing four errors (Freeman, Deichmann, Dawson, Lochridge), but nothing in particular nothing hurt LSU. There is still a plague of questions to be answered postionwise, the most notable being Trey Dawson going a cold 0-fer at short, and getting a hook Sunday (before coming in as a sub). Papierski also went for broke at the plate, but he got some good tags in on the ball and for now his defensive prowess will allow him to keep the catcher's mitt in his hands.
The midweek is the rare road trip to Beaumont to face Lamar and next weekend against Sacremento State, who is fresh off of taking a series at Auburn. With opening day jitters out of the way, this week should allow us to see a more concrete lineup.
Yeah, but was there dancing?
No. Due to the influx of fresh croots, the Tarp Crew decided to spend opening weekend making sure everyone was on the same page and knew the ropes. Public mourning will be held at the LSU Athletic Facilities office Monday night from 7-8.