The South Alabama Jaguars (31-18) defeated LSU (32-17) 7-6 in a furious rally Tuesday night in Alex Box Stadium.
After jumping out to a 5-1 lead after two innings, LSU failed to score any insurance runs and allowed South Alabama to slowly erase the lead before storming ahead at the death.
South Alabama got to Caleb Gilbert early on in the game, recording three singles in the first inning. LSU recorded a huge 5-4-3 double play to minimize the damage, but South Alabama came out of the inning ahead 1-0
LSU quickly struck back with a Kramer Robertson double to right center field to lead off the bottom half of the first inning and he was soon scored by a Greg Deichmann opposite field shot to put LSU ahead 2-1.
LSU added to their lead in the second inning that started off with a Josh Smith double to right center. Slaughter scored Smith after a Rankin Woley fielder’s choice recorded Beau Jordan out at second. Kramer Robertson walked and was also erased on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Cole Freeman, which scored Woley and Duplantis scored Slaughter with a single up the middle to make it 5-1 LSU.
Hunter Kiel came into the game in the fourth inning and surrendered two walks before being chased. A passed ball put a Jaguar on third and a sac fly from Travis Swaggerty pushed South Alabama within 5-2.
USA lead off the fifth inning with a double from Will Luft and scored a third run off of Colton Thomas’ ringing double off the right field wall. The Jaguars pulled within a run in the sixth inning with a leadoff walk followed by a single by Barnes.
LSU somehow held South Alabama at bay in the seventh and eighth inning, stranding five South Alabama runner in the two innings, but the levee broke in the top of the ninth.
Nick Bush allowed a leadoff double and single to USA to start the inning with a popout moving the lead runner to third. South Alabama executed a squeeze bunt and first baseman Jake Slaughter charge the play well but the flip from his glove sailed above his catcher and the game was tied. An intentional walk was issued to load the bases with one out but a sac fly gave the Jaguars a 6-5 lead. Will Luft followed that with a single to right, but Greg Deichmann fired a laser to record the runner out at the plate to end the inning.
Or so we thought. The play was reviewed at great length and reversed to give South Alabama a 7-5 lead over LSU. After a weekend where LSU benefited heavily from missed calls, that call would end up being the difference in the game.
With two outs in the ninth inning, Kramer Robertson laced a single right up the gut. A balk moved him into scoring position, which Cole Freeman took advantage of, scoring Robertson on a single to left. Freeman advanced into scoring position on a throwing error on the left fielder. Just when the rally was on and LSU looked to tie the game with more heroics from Antoine Duplantis, he swung at the first pitch and popped up to the shortstop to end the game.
The main reason the game was split into two distinct halves was the pitching. Hunter Newman and Zack Hess were unavailable to come out of the bullpen and instead some less taxed arms were used. All told the Tigers used 10 pitchers but after Will Reese’s one inning of relied work after Caleb Gilbert’s two inning outing, every relief pitcher LSU threw failed to gain traction. Three of the runs are directly attributed to Nick Bush, who threw one inning and walked three in addition to surrendering a hit. As a staff, LSU walked ten batters combined. You’ll be hard pressed to win a game with that stat.
“At the end of the day, we just didn’t do enough tonight,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “Ten walks...a few weeks ago I thought we got that straightened out but it reared it’s head again tonight.”
On the flip side of the coin, Andy Arguelles came in relief for South Alabama starter Sean Trimble and didn’t let go until Matt Peacock came in for the save. Arguelles threw for 6.1 innings, spreading out four hits and striking out eight while walking non.
“They brought that lefty in and he kept us off balance for the rest of the game. We just couldn’t muster anything against him,” Mainieri said. “He pretty much dominated us.”
With the loss, LSU drops to 7-6 in midweeks on the season.
“I don’t know whether we’re sleepwalking or what,” Greg Deichmann said after the game. “The teams that we play in the midweeks are solid teams...but if you go back and look, we either win the first part of the game and sleepwalk in the middle or sleepwalk all the way through and then try to come back in the end but it’s the story here tonight.”
Beau Jordan agreed with that sentiment.
“For some reason we pick it up on the weekends but these midweeks man...you can’t just walk through,” Jordan said. “That’s a good team, but we should not be losing.”
LSU will return to action Thursday night for a three game set against Auburn. That game will start at 6:30 and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.