LSU (36-17) closed out the regular season midweek slate with a 9-3 victory over Northwestern State (20-31). With the win, the Tigers avoid going .500 in midweek competition, finishing 8-6 on the year against weeknight opponents.
In a rarity for a midweek game, Todd Peterson went five innings, allowing one run (earned) on four hits while walking one and striking out six. Before the game LSU head coach Paul Mainieri and pitching coach Alan Dunn had decided that Peterson had a hard count of 60 pitches and he ended just on that mark, 59 pitches.
“Though Peterson was really good,” Mainieri said post-game. “Very efficient and threw a lot of strikes...the more mound time he gets the better he’ll continue to get. I though his fastball was alive and I thought he had good command of it, he had good offspeed pitches, I was very pleased.”
LSU jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning when Cole Freeman reached on an infield single and scored on a Greg Deichmann home run to right, the hardest hit home run for LSU this year.
Northwestern answered with a run of their own via back to back doubles in the third inning, but LSU came roaring back in the bottom half of the frame. Kramer Robertson lead off the inning with a double to left and Cole Freeman looked to bunt him over, but the catcher dropped the ball on the fielding attempt and the runners were safe at first and third with no outs. A sac fly from Duplantis to deep center scored Robertson and Freeman was plated on a single up the middle from Nick Coomes after stealing second.
LSU added more runs to their lead the following inning when Zach Watson went deep into the left center power ally, scoring Michael Papierski.
Northwestern cut the Tiger lead in half with a two with a two run monster blast from Austin Townsend that landed in the the top row of the right field bleachers following a walk to start the inning.
Robertson lead off the sixth like he lead off the third, with a double to left center. Just like the third inning, he scored from second but this time on an Duplantis double, who scored on errors on the second baseman and left fielder on the ensuing play to give Duplantis a de facto inside the park home run.
In the eighth inning Kramer Robertson his a home run to left field in his final regular season at bat in Alex Box Stadium to make it 9-3 LSU.
“I felt good tonight and I knew it was the last time I would ever get to wear this jersey and my last home regular season game here so I wanted to make it special,” said Robertson. “So it was pretty cool to hit a home run in my last at-bat. Something pretty special that I’ll remember for a while.
Some drama followed suit to end the eighth inning when Deichmann hit a tapper down the first base line that the pitcher fielded. The two players collided with Deichmann toppling over the pitcher. Deichmann spiked his helmet and was down for some time, bringing a hush over the crowd.
“He threw his helmet down and grabbed his knee and I felt like I wanted to crawl on top of the canopy and swan dive off of it,” is how Kramer Robertson described his inner monologue while watching Deichmann go down. “My stomach dropped.”
However, Deichmann got off under his own power and was fine and disaster was averted.
LSU will depart for Starkville tomorrow for their mega huge series with Mississippi State. The SEC West crown is on the line and with a sweep, the opportunity for LSU to take the overall conference title is in play.
But Paul doesn’t want to apply that pressure to his players about the looming three game set.
“You can’t get them too tight, you know,” Mainieri said. “You want to build up their confidence but you can’t get them too tight. It’s just a baseball game, we’re not trying to cure cancer this weekend. It’s just a game and they have to go out and play the game the way they know how to play it.”
“This is what you come to LSU to do, play in these kind of situations. If you’re afraid of it, you chose the wrong school.”
That series with Mississippi State starts Thursday at 6 with game two Friday at 6:30 and wrapping up Saturday at 3:30. The Thursday game will be broadcast nationally on the SEC Network, with Friday’s game being broadcast online only via the SEC Network+ on the WatchESPN app. Saturday’s finale will air nationally on ESPNU.