Game one Saturday night had all the makings of a vintage Alex Lange performance. Through five innings Lange was on the mound with a 4-2 lead anchored by a three run blast off the bat of Greg Deichmann. We've seen him take a lead like that and burn through the middle innings and either carry the team to the line himself or drop it off for Newman's inning of work.
Saturday night wasn't one of those nights.
"It hurts to let your teammates down like that," Lange said after the game. "That's what sucks."
In the sixth inning, Lange hit a wall. A leadoff walk only snowballed as it preceded a single, double, and a wild pitch. With the bases loaded, Lange was pulled for Parker Bugg after giving up another single to give Coastal a 5-4 lead. Bugg allowed a sac fly before getting out of the inning down 6-4.
Throughout the last part of the season LSU had built a reputation for fighting back late in games and not fading away. Jake Latz wasn't able to start the bleeding, as he allowed three runs in just 2/3 innings of work. Riley Smith and Doug Norman couldn't either, as both allowed a run in the eighth and ninth innings to allow Coastal their 10th and 11th runs.
LSU was only able to put across two runs before the ninth that included just one run in a first and second situation with no outs in the seventh inning. LSU began to stage a rally late in the ninth inning but failed when Jordan Romero was caught dead to rights between first and second after his bloop RBI single to cut the deceit to 11-8.
Facing elimination as the away team on Sunday night with Jared Poche' running on four days rest, LSU went down 2-0 after the first inning. After that misstep in the first, Poche' returned to form. He allowed a runner in every inning he threw, but nobody scored again until the sixth inning. By nature, Jared Poche' is a contact pitcher and he is good at it as long as his defense supports him.
They did not. All night long LSU was playing way too tight. That is they were overaggressive (both at the dish and in the field) all night and tried to force plays or simply thought too hard about them. There was a miscommunication about who covers first on a tapper to the right side of the infield. There were ground balls that bottled infielders. There were dives for balls that should not have been made. There were breaking balls that weren't blocked by one of the better defensive catchers in the SEC. And there were bad at bats.
In the past LSU has been known to push the issue when down late in big situations, taking the first offering from pitchers no matter what the pitch is. Sunday night was no different. The Tigers kept getting under balls and lofting them up for easy can of corn outs.
LSU was able to get it going late, pushing a run in the seventh inning to draw the game to one run. In the eighth inning LSU loaded the bases with one out, but Michael Papierski grounded into a fielder's choice.
The Tigers made another charge in the ninth inning when Cole Freeman reached on a fielder's choice and advanced on a wild pitch. Antoine Duplantis walked and Jake Fraley reached on a throwing error to load the bases and score Freeman. Deichman was intentionally walked (a smart move) and Brody Wofford pinch hit for Brennan Breaux. Wofford struck out, and Beau Jordan flied out to left center to end the inning.
LSU had to settle for a tie game going into the bottom of the ninth with Hunter Newman on the mound. The usually masterful closer for the Tigers made the ultimate pitching bulnder when he walked the leadoff batter Anthony Marks. Marks stole second on the first pitch to Michael Paez, who dropped a Texas league single to score Marks and walk off the Tigers in their own ballpark, ending their season.