LSU started slow, scoring first on a few gifts from UGA. Zach Watson earned a walk in the 2nd, moved over on a Jake Slaughter HBP, took 3rd on a wild pitch, and scored easily on a Josh Smith groundball out. After an uneventful 3rd, the 4th inning saw each team send a bomb over the right field wall on their first pitch of the inning, though one was more significant than the other. UGA LF Keegan McGovern smacked a high flyer over the fence, tying the game and scoring the first run against Jared Poché all season. Poché’s amazing start to 2017, which included a 7 inning no-hitter and a 2nd no-hit bid that lasted until the 9th, ends with a 32 scoreless inning streak, the 2nd longest in LSU history, behind only the 44.2 innings by the great Ben McDonald in 1989. After McGovern crossed the plate, the Alex Box crowd rose to it’s feet to salute Poché’s historic effort.
That homer would be all the scoring for the Dawgs on Saturday night, and the Tigers immediately made them pay for breaking the scoreless streak. Antoine Duplantis, fresh off setting a new LSU all time record for hits in a game on Friday, mashed the first pitch of the bottom of the 4th far clear of the right wall, giving the lead back to LSU. In the 5th, the Tigers let UGA’s starting pitcher Tony Locey get himself into trouble, taking back-to-back-to-back walks to load the bases with 1 out. “Twonnie” Duplantis continued his hot weekend, slapping a 2 RBI single to the right corner and chasing Locey from the game.
Things were quite for both sides until the 8th as the game sprinted by compared to LSU’s last two marathon outings. Poché went a full 7 innings, giving up 7 hits and 2 walks, but only the 1 run and marking 5 strikeouts. he threw 104 pitches, the longest outing for any LSU pitcher so far this season. Caleb Gilbert came in for the 8th and ate up the rest of the night, critically saving the rest of LSU’s depleted bullpen for Sunday’s finale. The bottom of the 8th saw a nice sequence from the bottom of the LSU lineup, which has been struggling a bit this season. Slaughter used his speed to beat out a ground ball to the mound that was double-clutched. Smith took a walk and Nick Coomes, who was starting at C tonight to give Papierski some rest, leaned in to take a HBP and load the bases with 2 outs. Kramer Robertson, who’s slumped just a bit of late, showed an enormous amount of patience at the plate and took a bases loaded walk to score a run. Cole Freeman took the next shot at busting the game wide open but unfortunately sent a screaming liner to left right into the glove of the 3B, ending the scoring for the night at 5-1 LSU.
While Jared Poché will have to shave off that fuzzy excuse for a mustache, he’s still working towards a bigger record. Saturday marked Poché’s 32 win in his LSU career, passing the great Paul Byrd and moving him into 4th place on the LSU career wins list. He needs just 7 more to break the record, a feat that is certainly within reach against an SEC slate that has just begun.
Coach Mainieri hammers this cliché every season, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true: Getting weekend sweeps in SEC play is hugely important, no matter who you’re playing. LSU will try for it at 1pm Sunday. Fr RHP Eric Walker will take the mound as he and what’s left in the bullpen will go against Jr RHP Chase Adkins, UGA’s best arm on paper.