For the third year in a row, the LSU Tigers (3-1) have dropped the first midweek game of the season after they lost Tuesday night’s contest at New Orleans 11-8.
LSU lead 5-1 after four innings, but the fifth inning would be disastrous for the Tigers. The Privateers (4-0) exploded for six runs to charge ahead of the Tigers, and weren’t done as they added four more in the sixth.
UNO’s explosion coincided with LSU’s move from starter Caleb Gilbert to the bullpen. Gilbert pitched well, going his scheduled four innings and only giving up four hits and one run, earned while striking out five and walking none. That’s about as good of an outing as you can ask for in a midweek.
But the first three pitchers out of the bullpen combined for nine hits, 10 runs, all earned, three walks, and a single strikeout with only four outs recorded among them. Hunter Kiel came in first and despite starting out with devastating material, he couldn’t find control and gave up a leadoff double to Samuel Capielano. Capielano was sacrificed in and Kiel strung up former Tiger and brother of Privateer head coach Dakota Dean, but then Kiel gave up back to back doubles to Tristan Clarke and Hezekiah Randolph before walking John Cable. Collin Strall was called on to end the UNO attack, and then this sequence happened:
Orynn Veillon RBI double
Dakota Phillips walk to load the bases
Owen Magee two RBI double
Capielano RBI single
New Orleans had taken the lead by the time Russell Reynolds was called from the bullpen to put out the fire, inducing a soft line out to Cole Freeman.
The Privateers recorded a shutdown inning from the Tigers, and in the sixth added four more to the board with a home run from Clarke followed by a walk from Randolph, a single by John Cable, and a double by Veillon, who was knocked in by Owen Magee. Doug Norman and Austin Bain would finally slam the door on UNO, coaxing two 1-2-3 innings.
LSU threatened late as they added a run in the eighth when Bryce Adams laced a double down the third base line. He scored on an E6 where Aaron Palmer tried to rush a throw in order to get speedy Cole Freeman out at first. Kramer Robertson lead off the ninth inning with a double off the right center wall and advanced on Greg Deichmann’s 4-3 sacrifice putout. Jake Slaughter then singled past the shortstop and Josh Smith took a pitch past the second basement to put runners at first and second with one out for Nick Coomes. Coomes grounded to third, who made the throw to put Smith out at second. Coomes was ruled out at first to complete the game-ending double play, but replay seems to show that Coomes was in fact safe. LSU first base coach Sean Ochinko certainly agreed, as he was ejected for adamantly arguing the call.
LSU’s bullpen suffered a tremendous blowout and it was a troubling performance for them, but there were some positive to take away from the first midweek game:
- Caleb Gilbert. He only went four innings, but they were four strong innings regardless.
- Antoine Duplantis broke out of his mini-slump, going three for five at the plate with two singles and a double, scoring a run.
- The bottom third of LSU’s lineup composed of 7-9 hitters Nick Coomes, Bryce Adams, and Brennan Breaux were 5-15 with three runs scored, two of them coming off of back to back home runs from Bryce Adams and Brennan Breaux. All told, those three produced four RBIs for the Tigers and a walk.
It’s a bad loss, but as recent history tells us it’s not the end of the world for the Tigers. In 2015, LSU opened up their midweek slate at home and lost to the Southland’s Nicholls 6-3. Last year the Tigers took to Beaumont to play Lamar and lost 12-11 to that Southland side. In both years, they ended up as national seeds. There’s a long way to go in the season, this is just one bump along the road.