LSU (14-5) hammered Georgia (8-11) 22-9 Friday night in Alex Box Stadium/Skip Bertman Field to open up SEC play.
It was a record setting night for LSU at the plate as Kramer Robertson set the LSU single game record for doubles with three and Antoine Duplantis set the single game record for hits in a game with six to pair with seven runs batted in. For good measure, Duplantis collected a hit by pitch as well to reach base seven times tonight.
The best part? Duplantis was blissfully unaware of the fact that he broke a record.
“I had no idea going into that last at-bat that it was a record,” Duplantis said after the game. “I never got five hits in a game so I went up there saying ‘that’d be pretty cool.’ And I wanted to top Kramer.”
Kramer must have heard that comment, because he then ambushed Duplantis with a towel coated in shaving cream and rubbed it in his face.
“That’s what you get for getting the last hit,” said Robertson to the Barbasol-coated Duplantis. “You couldn’t just let me tie you.”
“That didn’t feel as good as getting the sixth hit,” Duplantis retorted.
His teammate wasn’t the only one partaking in the light ribbing with the record-setting left fielder, as his coach Paul Mainieiri joined in on the fun too, saying “I told him after the game, you’re like the fifth best athlete in your family” in reference to his Olympic pole vaulting family.
“So what you got six hits and seven RBIs, have you ever jumped 19 feet in the air?”
“That’s very true,” Duplantis said when informed of his coach’s playful comments. “It doesn’t take too much athleticism to play baseball, I guess it’s more of a skill sport.”
“That is true, but I don’t know how well they play baseball.”
While LSU batters broke records and ended up dropping 22 runs on Georgia, it’s very easy to forget that the game started out with LSU in dire peril, down four runs after one inning of play. For the second time in three weeks LSU ace pitcher Alex Lange turned in a lackluster performance and failed to fully command his breaking ball
Lange’s rocky start began with the first batter he faced when we went to a full count to Tucker Maxwell and walked him. That would come back to bite Lange as the next batter Cam Shepherd would line a double to centerfield that Zach Watson misplayed and let go over his head. Lange would continue to struggle with his command, allowing another full count walk to Michael Curry. The walk would come back to hurt Lange when he gave up a three run jack to Will Campbell.
Coming to bat for the first time and already down in a 4-0 hole, LSU wasted no time climbing back out. Kramer Robertson led off with a double to right center field and was advanced over to third by a Cole Freeman bunt. Antoine Duplantis scored Robertson when he hit a comebacker to the pitcher Gist that deflected off of his glove, allowing Duplantis to beat the throw to first.
UGA’s Andrew Gist had only allowed two walks on the entire season. With a runner on and one out, Gist decided he’d rather not face Greg Deichmann as a tying run just yet, so he pitched around him and walked him on the ole “unintentional intentional walk”. Then he plunked Jake Slaughter to load the bases with one out. He struck out Zach Watson but Josh Smith worked a walk after an excellent at-bat to score Duplantis on the carousel. In one inning of work, he had matched his season total
After one inning, LSU had halved the Bulldog lead. In the second, they would blow right by it. Michael Papierski started the inning off with a single off of the shortstop’s glove and Kramer Robertson would draw a walk behind him. Cole Freeman dropped a double into the left field corner to score Papierski and move Robertson to third base. Robertson scored on Duplantis’ infield single to first base to tie the game and Freeman moved to third. Duplantis’ speed in beating out the toss to the pitcher would come into play when he later stole a base to move into scoring position. Freeman scored on a sacrifice fly deep to left to give LSU the lead.
Gist would record only one more out before being pulled after just 1.2 innings of work. LSU moved ahead 6-4 when Watson smashed a hard-hit double to left center that scored Duplantis.
Cam Shepherd would get the best of Alex Lange again to leadoff the third inning for Georgia when he singled up the middle. He stole second before advancing to third and home on back to back passed balls to bring Georgia within a run of LSU.
LSU would pad the lead some more when Papierski drew a one out walk in the third inning. He moved to third on a Kramer Robertson double and scored on a groundout from Freeman. Duplantis put LSU ahead 8-6. LSU added another in the fourth when Robertson doubled in Josh Smith, who was hit by a pitch.
Yet still, Georgia came clawing back. In the fifth Cam Shepherd recorded his third hit off Lange in the evening. Lange gave up a walk to Keegan McGovern and that came back to hurt when Curry doubled in two runs to right field to make it 9-7. Campbell, who took Lange yard in the first inning, got the best of him again on a double to left to pull the Bulldogs within one run and to chase Lange from the game.
Austin Bain came in to relieve Lange and gave up a single but got out of the inning without any further damage. Bain pitched 2.2 innings and gave up four hits but only allowed one run and effectively stopped the bleeding while LSU’s offense exploded. The eight runs allowed on eight hits were the most in Lange’s career to this point. He ended with seven strikeouts, around his usual number for four innings of work but with four walks, an above average number for him.
With the insurance runs dried up, LSU went back to work in the fifth inning. Duplantis was hit by a pitch with one out and with Greg Deichmann up, Georgia elected to put on the “Big Papi” defensive shift where the second baseman plays in shallow right field, the shortstop plays where the second baseman usually is, and the third baseman at shortstop. It didn’t matter as Deichmann roped a double to left center field to score Duplantis. Slaughter walked. That came back to bite Georgia as Zach Watson roped a double to score Deichmann. Slaughter had to hold up at third, but would score on the subsequent sacrifice fly from Josh Smith. Beau Jordan scored Watson on a single to push LSU’s lead to 13-8, making the lead grand-slam proof.
And then the floodgates opened up. LSU exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning on seven hits and one error and ended the inning with the bases loaded.
The morbid details: Robertson leadoff double, Freeman sacrifice bunt, Duplantis RBI single, Deichmann RBI single, Slaughter RBI single, Watson single, Smith hit by pitch, Jordan reached on RBI error, Papierski RBI single, Robertson walk, Freeman popup, Duplantis RBI and finally, a Deichmann groundout to short to end the inning. By the time it was over, LSU was up 20-8 on the Bulldogs. Georgia would get one back in the top half of the seventh inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Rankin Woley came off the bench as a pinch hitter and knocked a single and was promptly followed by Robertson doing the same. Freeman struck out, bringing up Duplantis. Duplantis took one pitch before taking the next to right field, scoring two and shattering the LSU single game record for hits.
“Cole (Freeman) and Kramer (Robertson) have been getting on so much so I have so many opportunities,” Duplantis said of his sudden surge at the plate. “I’ve just been lucky enough to cash in on them.”
LSU and Georgia meet tomorrow at nearly the same time, in the same place, on the same bat-channel.