LSU beat Georgia 7-6 Sunday to complete the SEC-opening sweep of the Bulldogs.
It was a perfect day for baseball in Baton Rouge, with temperatures in the mid 70’s and the sun in ample supply. The product on the field was less than appealing than the weather. Georgia committed four errors and hit five LSU batters, including a run that saw three straight Tigers plunked, assisting their hosts in the victory.
“Well it makes for ugly baseball,” said Mainieri after the game. “I don’t even enjoy watching it as a coach and I can imagine that fans don’t either. The credit goes to our hitters, they were very disciplined and they were very tough at the plate and guys got hit a lot but nobody was trying to get hit, it was unavoidable.”
“I’m just glad nobody got hurt. It’s just part of the game.”
Kramer Robertson, who was hit by a pitch twice in Sunday’s finale, was just happy the bruises were worth it.
“I haven’t seen a game like this in a long time and I hope I don’t see another one like it,” Robertson said after the game. “I don’t particularly love getting hit by a pitch, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get on base and help the team win.”
“It hurts but it’s just as good as a walk or a hit.”
LSU was unable to mount a viable threat until the third inning when Kramer Robertson led off the inning with a single to center field. Cole Freeman reached on an error on the third baseman behind him setting up first and second with no outs for Antoine Duplantis. Duplantis grounded to the first baseman who threw to the shortstop for out number one, and Duplantis very clearly beat the throw at first base on the back end of the relay.
Only it wasn’t called that way. Duplantis was ruled out, an action that lead Paul Mainieri sprinting out of the dugout to demand an explanation from the umpire. He couldn’t change his mind and LSU was left with a runner on third with two outs.
That brought up Greg Deichmann and Georgia applied the Big Papi shift once more for the weekend despite the fact that Deichmann proved that he can beat it with ease. In a classic “ball don’t lie” situation, Deichmann singled to left field, scoring Robertson in the process.
Georgia took the lead in the fifth inning when LJ Talley was hit by a pitch with one out. The batter behind him struck out, but the nine hole hitter Will Proctor would make the hit by pitch hurt when he homered to left field to put the Dawgs up 2-1.
LSU would pull back in front in their half of the inning, taking full advantage of Chase Adkins and Tucker Bradley’s inability to throw strikes. Robertson took a pitch to the torso to start the inning off and was moved over on a bunt from Freeman. Then Adkins lost all control and walked Duplantis, Deichmann, and Zach Watson back to back to back to tie the game. That would be enough to chase Adkins after 4.1 innings of work. Reliever Tucker Bradley had trouble finding the zone as well and he walked another one before giving up an infield single to allow LSU to reach a 4-2 lead.
Georgia got a run back in the sixth when Keegan McGovern received a base on a hit by pitch and advanced on a fielder’s choice before scoring on a single from Schunk, who an inning earlier took a Beau Jordan chopper to left off the face.
And then the game got ridiculous.
Bradley hit three straight, yes three straight, Tiger batters to load the bases with no out, running the weekend total for hit batters up to 12. That was obviously enough for the hook, but he was left in to pitch to Greg Deichmann, who nearly hit a grand slam but settled for a sac fly to score Robertson and pull LSU ahead 5-3. Blakely Brown was called into the jam and escaped after inducing two popups.
Austin Biggar singled to lead off the seventh against Zack Hess and moved on a walk. Matthew Beck came in for relief and only made a bad situation worse as he walked another and plunked McGovern to walk in a run and drop the lead to one. LSU got out of the inning with a smooth double play on a liner hit to third that Josh Smith turned to second.
Once more, LSU would increase their lead to 7-4 off of even more mistakes from Georgia, starting with a Beau Jordan walk. Jordan advanced on a wild pitch and scored when he was awarded home on a scoring error on a throw that went into the dugout. Kramer Robertson was also awarded second base on the play, and he scored on Cole Freeman’s single to left field.
“I was glad to see Cole Freeman, who had a rough weekend, come through with a huge base hit there,” said Mainieri.
“I’ll say this,” Mainieri said. “With the exception of obviously the ninth inning when we didn’t get to bat, every time they scored we responded. It happened on Friday night and it happened again today.”
Georgia made it interesting in the top half of the 9th when newly minted closer Caleb Gilbert allowed two singles and a double to leadoff the inning. The three run lead turned to two with no outs, and then a groundout pulled the Bulldogs with one run and placed the tying run on second. Gilbert got out of the inning with a groundout to first and a grand strikeout to retire the game and put a cap on the sweep.
LSU’s Eric Walker was strong in his first SEC start, throwing five scoreless innings, two of them three up and three down before hitting a wall in the sixth inning. He struck out eight and walked none while allowing five hits, spacing them out well for the most part.
The Tigers return to action with another mid-week Southland Special, re-igniting the I-12 rivalry with the Southeastern Lions on Wednesday night, on Wedne before hitting the road for a weekend at reeling Florida.