For the first time since 1997, UNO has swept LSU.
It took 15 innings of baseball, but New Orleans beat LSU 7-4 Wednesday night as a followup to their 11-8 victory on February 21st.
“I’m glad we don’t play UNO anymore this year to be honest with you,” said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. “We bring out the best in those guys.”
New Orleans opened the scoring immediately. In the first inning, Samuel Capielano singled and scored on a ringing double to left center from Tristan Clarke.
LSU came roaring back in a big way in the bottom half of the inning. Kramer Robertson and Greg Deichmann drew walks and with two outs Josh Smith hit a bomb to left field, a no-doubter that banged off of the scoreboard.
LSU found itself in hot water an inning later with the bases loaded thanks to an error on Kramer Robertson, a catcher’s interference, a fielder’s choice, and a walk. But Todd Peterson was able to induce a 6-4-3 double play to work his way out of the jam.
LSU held on to the 3-1 lead for the third and fourth inning, but let it slip in the fifth inning when Hunter Kiel threw three wild pitches to tie the game after Dakota Dean doubled in Capielano.
After UNO tied it up, both teams settled in for a dogfight. Both had opportunities but nothing solid enough to seriously threaten for the lead. Both went up and down in order in the seventh and eighth innings but had chances in the ninth.
UNO led off the ninth with a walk, but a double play erased it. With two outs they got a runner to second base but failed to score him. In the Tiger’s half of the inning, Josh Smith earned a one out walk. A single and a fielder’s choice moved him over to third. Robertson then laced a gapper to right center, but UNO center fielder Orynn Veillon made a tremendous diving catch to rob Kramer of the game-winning hit. Zach Watson would later rob Veillon of a double in a similar manner in the 14th inning, but that catch didn’t have the weight of the game hinging on it.
UNO would score in the 11th when Dakota Phillips singled, stole second, and scored on an Owen Magee single, but LSU would respond in the bottom half of the inning when Beau Jordan legged out an infield single. Brennan Breaux pinch ran for him and back to back singles from Freeman and Duplantis brought the game back to level pegging.
LSU planned on using up as many select arms as possible tonight to save the load for the weekend, and the game going into extra innings meant that Collin Strall had to pitch more than he had in an LSU uniform to this point. Strall threw 73 pitches in 4.2 innings of work, all of them in extra innings, and carried the team until the 15th inning. There was a stretch between the 12th and 14th innings where he retired 11 of 12 Privateer batters.
“It was a little weird,” Strall said of his unexpectedly long outing. “I knew out bullpen was starting to get a little thin because we were trying to get a lot of guys out there. But I just took it inning by inning.”
“You can’t be looking at the big picture and wonder ‘how long am I going to go?’ because that’s when you start struggling. Just go out there, get three outs, and get back to the dugout and give my team a chance to win.”
Strall and LSU ran out of gas in the 15th inning when the wheels came off and UNO scored three runs to put the game out of reach for good.
The inning began with a Dakota Dean double down the right field line. He was moved over by a sac bunt and scored on a John Cable grounder to Freeman at second base. Freeman went home to get Dean out at the plate, but the throw was off the line and the run scored with the runner safely reaching. Cable moved to second on a wild pitch and Magee hit another in when he doubled to right field as well. Veillon walked to load the bases and Aaron Palmer walked to score one more for the road team. LSU would get out of the inning down 7-4, a deficit they could not make up with three outs.
The 15 inning game was the longest game by innings played in the seven year history of Alex Box Stadium/Skip Bertman Field, and at 5 hours, 25 minutes, was the longest LSU baseball game by time elapsed since 1994.