South Carolina took advantage of one bad inning from Alex Lange and defeated LSU 3-2 in a tightly contested game one Friday.
South Carolina opened the scoring with three singles in the second inning. On the third one it appeared as though right fielder Greg Deichmann had hosed Jonah Bird out at home, but the call was reviewed and overturned as catcher Michael Papierski never actually applied the tag to the runner. A fourth single in the inning broke down the wall, putting two more runs on the board with Madison Stokes’ single up the middle.
“Hanging a breaking ball and letting the nine hole hit in two runs with two strikes and two outs,” Lange said, reflecting on his errors. “Can’t do that.”
“That’s on me, I take full responsibility.”
Outside of that second inning, Alex Lange was sterling for LSU, getting the Gamecocks in order five times and striking out five, which propelled him to 347 strikeouts in his career at LSU. With those he moves past Aaron Nola for third all time at LSU. Lange went all nine innings and only allowed five hits, only one of which came outside the second inning.
Lange himself isn’t pleased with the rest of his outing, however, saying “We lost. I couldn’t care less. I couldn’t care less if I go one inning and we get a win or I go nine and we get a loss, so long as the team wins.”
The Tigers may have had something in the bottom of the third when Cole Freeman doubled down the line to the left field corner, but that was erased when he was caught trying to stretch the double into a triple.
Kramer Robertson put the Tigers on the board in the fourth inning with a 3-1 pitch that he turned into line drive to left field that never came down in play. LSU got another run on the board in the fifth inning when Papierski and Watson singled back to back to start off the inning. Paul Mainieri flashed bunt with Josh Smith to bring the corner infielders in, and then called a double steal. It worked, and Michael Papierski stole third and ended up going home on a wild pitch. That’s all that LSU could get in the inning, but it was enough to pull the game within a run of the Gamecocks.
LSU lost the game for all intents and purposes in the bottom of the eighth inning. With one out, South Carolina closer Tyler Johnson came in to pitch for the Gamecocks and he started off with a walk to Coomes. Slaughter ran for Coomes and LSU put on a steal. Kramer put on a protective swing and hit a tapper down the first base line that the first baseman Hogan fielder. He threw to first to record Robertson out, but nobody was covering. Slaughter moved to third and Robertson to second. The ball hit Robertson in the back and had it not, LSU would have definitely scored to tie the game. Antoine Duplantis was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out, but LSU failed to get the ball past the infield.
“We gave ourselves a chance, we just couldn’t get them home,” Mainieri said. “We had a runner on third base in bottom of the eighth inning with less than two outs where a fly ball would get him home and unfortunately we just couldn’t get them home. That’s the way it works sometimes.”
“We had our opportunities and we didn’t execute when we had our chances,” Robertson said, visibly frustrated under a cool exterior. “You’re not gonna beat really good teams like this if you squander so many opportunities. It’s not like we played a bad game, we played really well.”
“Sometimes you have to bear down and will it to happen and we just...squandered a couple opportunities and that was the difference in the game. I didn’t feel like we were outplayed, we played well and they played well, for the most part it was a clean played game. It’s definitely frustrating that you play a game like that and you come away one run short. It just eats away at you and you’re gonna have to forget about it and come back tomorrow.”