LSU defeated Ole Miss 3-2 Saturday afternoon to take the series from their rivals from Oxford.
LSU won game one of the series with a decisive 15-2 victory Thursday before dropping game two Friday 4-1.
“What happened in game one is such an aberration,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “I told my son ‘I hate when we have those kinds of games because our players start to think it’s easy’ and last night proved it wasn’t easy and today proved it wasn’t easy.”
With the win, LSU (25-12) extends its winning streak of series in Baton Rouge to 19. The Rebels (22-14) have not won a series played in Baton Rouge since 1982.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when Jordan Romero hit a leadoff single to left field and advanced to second on a fielding error by the left fielder Bryan Seamster. He advanced on a soft bloop single from Josh Smith, but had to hold at third. Papierski struck out and Duplantis seemed to have grounded out directly to the second baseman Colby Bortles to end the inning, but he bottled the exchange and allowed Romero to score.
Blackman instantly made up for his error with another solo shot to left, his third of the weekend to tie the game at one. However, Greg Deichmann would see his home run and raise him a solo shot to right that landed three quarters of the way up the Diamond Deck to put LSU back ahead by a run.
LSU padded their lead in the sixth with a Smith single up the middle that scored Jake Slaughter, who pinch ran for Nick Coomes after he smashed a double over Ole Miss right fielder Tim Rowe’s head to make it 3-1 LSU.
For six innings, Eric Walker was great for LSU. He wasn’t flashy or overpowering, but he was effective. He allowed his defense to play well behind him and only allowed three hits.
“It felt pretty efficient,” Walker said. “I felt pretty good, I felt like I had command of all three pitches and mixed them pretty well and tried to be efficient with it. I felt pretty good.”
And then the seventh inning came.
Ole Miss pulled back within a run immediately with a Ryan Olenek one out double off the right field wall. Olenek thought about advancing on a Rowe flyout to left, but held on when he saw the throw from Duplantis. His patience was rewarded with a Nick Fortes single up the middle that scored him.
LSU got out of the inning, but Walker didn’t. His day ended after 6.2 innings pitched where he gave up two runs, both earned on six hits while walking none and striking out five. Hess came in and recorded a strikeout to escape the jam.
Hess found himself in the same jam in the 8th after he struck out the first two batters when he gave up back to back single, one to dead center and one an infield ground ball that Cole Freeman could smother but not transition to throw. However Hess wriggled out of it with another ground ball to Freeman, who made the toss to second.
“That’s the job description of being a bullpen guy,” Said Hess. “You’re never going to come into a situation where things going to be easy. Every pitch you throw is going to have to count. So you have to be focused and locked in on every single pitch.”
Greg Deichmann lead off the LSU eighth with a hit by pitch, but after a sac failed to advance any farther.
Newman came into the ninth inning and promptly surrendered a leadoff walk. The runner was bunted over, but Newman caught the next batter looking to pull with one out.
Bryan Seamster took a 1-0 pitch and lined it off the end of his bat in shallow right field, but all five feet nine inches of Freeman leapt up as far as he jumped half the height of himself to make the game-saving catch. Had he not made the play, LSU and Ole Miss are sent to extra innings.
“I knew they were looking for a breaking ball because he (Newman) throws it so well and once he hit it at first I didn’t know if I was going to get to it,” Freeman said of he heroic grab. “I knew I was going to at least be able to give it a good try and luckily I was able to get up high enough to grab it.”
“I told Freeman ‘don’t let anybody make fun of you for being short again’”, Mainieri said.
“You can always go back and say ‘Oh I’ll tell you about a story about when I was at LSU...’”