After a rain delay of some 6+ hours, LSU's latest run to Omaha started with a bang in the soggy confines of Alex Box Stadium as the Tigers easily dispatched Utah Valley, 7-1.
The action started immediately for LSU as a lead off walk by Antoine Duplantis in the bottom of the first was followed by a towering home run to the top of the right field deck by Jake Fraley. The LSU offense would continue to tack on runs throughout the night, using aggressive base running and some small ball tactics to score 1 additional run in each of the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings before Greg Deichmann, sent his own two run bomb into the seats in left in the 7th inning to take the 7-1 lead.
Despite the great output, those 2 runs from Fraley in the 1st would be all the Tigers needed on the night as Jared Poche showed more of the consistency that's made him one of the most trusted arms that Paul Mainieri has ever had at LSU. In the second inning, Utah Valley's RF Mark Krueger would get on with a lead off single, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a double to the left field corner by CF Justin Erlandson. And that would be it for the Wolverines as Poche's locked down to go 6 IP, tying his own career best of 8 Ks with 0 walks on the night. With the win, Poche became the first pitcher in LSU history to record 8 wins in 3 consecutive seasons. In relief, Jake Latz, after a long warmup, got 2 Ks and a pop out in his 1 inning of work, followed by Russell Reynolds also facing the minimum in the 8th. John Valek III, who hadn't seen any action since the Nortwestern St game the week before the SEC tournament, came out to close the game in the 9th, presumably in an effort to knock off some rust in case he's needed at some point in the post season. He gave up a single, but worked around it with 2 Ks to put the game to bed.
The only other action of not from the game was a cursed night for SS Kramer Robertson. After a long bomb to left that was incorrectly ruled a double off the top of the wall in the 5th inning (replay showed the ball cleared the yellow line at the top of the wall and bounced back into play off of the chain fence in front of the seats) Robertson later to a HBP to his wrist that would probably have taken anyone else out of the game. Despite the 5-1 lead at the time, Robertson fought to stay in the game and played 2 more innings on defense before being lifted from the game with many other starters. In postgame, he confirmed that he did not have a fracture, but you have to imagine it will at least be sore. In his own words, he's got all day today to rest it up before LSU plays again on Saturday night.
The Regional continues Saturday with some Breakfast At The Box. Rice will face Southeastern at 9am, with the loser having to face Utah Valley immediately in an elimination game, followed by the winner's bracket game against LSU scheduled for 7pm. There is more rain in the forecast, so be prepared for further delays.