LSU (44-17) defeated Texas Southern (20-33) 15-7 in a game that can best be described as “drunk” to open the 2017 Baton Rouge Regional.
“It was one thing after another,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said of the sloppy game. “It was like Murphy's law out there today.”
The usually sterling LSU defense allowed 5 errors and in doing so didn’t get starting pitcher Jared Poché in line for the win that would tie him for the LSU all-time wins record with 38. Both teams combined for seven errors.
“I think the most appropriate statement would be to say that I’m glad that game is over and I’m glad we won,” Mainieri said. “This was one of those games that happens once in while to a team. We’ve been playing so good, so crisp, so smart. Today we didn’t do a lot of those things. We struggled defensively, we struggled a little bit on the mound, we struggled to hit their pitching.”
“We just didn’t play really well today.”
“We won,” shortstop Kramer Robertson said after the game. “We’re advancing. It doesn’t matter how we did it.”
“We escaped, we advanced, and we’re going to forget about this game and never think about it again.”
Texas Southern opened the game with back to back singles from Kamren Dukes and Jose Camacho followed by a walk to Gaudencio Lucca to load the bases with no outs, putting Jared Poché in a jam right out of the gate. After Poché struck out Blake Hicks, Christian Sanchez grounded off of Josh Smith's glove. Kramer Robertson fielded it, then pumped to second. When he saw that the runner was going to be safe, Robertson hesitated and made a throw to first, but Nick Coomes was not covering the bag as it looked like he had assumed that Robertson had given up on the play. A run scored on the base hit and another on the error on Coomes to make it 2-0 Texas Southern.
“I wasn’t looking to first there,” Robertson said of his error after the game. “I saw the ball and stopped it, looked up to see where the baserunner was and right when I started to let go I saw he wasn’t on the bag and it was too late to hold up. It was an unfortunate play.”
“We were kinda pressing after that,” Smith said. “I made an error and I couldn’t tell you who else did. But we were playing the game too fast and we should have slowed it down more because that’s what happens when you play too fast.”
The visiting Tigers put another run on the board in the second when Dukes reached on an airmailed ball from Josh Smith and scored on a single up the middle from Camacho that Watson missed while fielding.
He made up for the error in the following inning.
Texas Southern starter Anthony Martinez threw from a funky left handed delivery angle, released the ball low and late and rarely touching 80 mph. LSU had significant trouble trying to locate in the first inning, but the bottom part of the LSU lineup had cracked the code on their first trip to the plate in the third inning.
Nick Coomes walked with one out and Smith drew a base by wearing a pitch. Coomes scored from second with Michael Papierski’s single, putting LSU on the board. And then Zach Watson pulled back on a 75 mile per hour pitch and launched a big fly to the Left Field Landing, a three run shot that put LSU ahead 4-3.
Cole Freeman lead off the fourth inning with a deep blast to dead center that was dropped. It was ruled a triple, but the outcome was the same. Deichmann scored him on a ground ball in the infield that the shortstop had no play on it make it 5-3.
Texas State rallied back in the fifth, stemming from LSU’s fourth error when Robertson fielded a ground ball and missed the throw to first low and wide. Disaster struck when, after a walk, a sure-fire double play ball five holed Kramer, scooting into left field and allowing two runs to score, putting Texas Southern back on top. Another single scored the runner from second, pushing TSU’s lead to 7-4.
In the middle of that big inning for TSU they chased Jared Poché, ensuring that he would not tie the LSU school record for career wins by a pitcher. The senior left handed pitcher saw his day end after just 4.1 innings where he allowed five hits and seven runs, only one of which were earned while walking three and striking out eight.
Plain and simple, the defense behind Jared Poché failed him.
Once again, LSU jumped right back ahead though. Freeman lead off the fifth with a double that looped around the third place bag and was followed by an Antoine Duplantis single. Duplantis advanced on the throw to home and with no outs and two runners in scoring position, Deichmann was walked intentionally. LSU then strung four straight RBI in four batters via a Nick Coomes single, a Beau Jordan sacrifice fly, a Josh Smith double, and another sac fly from Michael Papierski to put LSU back on top 9-7.
In the middle of that onslaught they chased Texas Southern pitcher Anthony Martinez after 4.1 innings of work, the same as Poché, after banging out eight hits against the slow-throwing southpaw and scoring nine runs, each earned. Martinez had walked four LSU batters while striking out three.
LSU added some much-needed insurance runs in the bottom half of the seventh inning via back to back home runs from Papierski and Watson, Papierski’s a two run moonshot to left that scored Beau Jordan who reached on a hit by pitch and Watson’s a no doubt laser to put LSU ahead 13-7.
“I asked Mike (Micah Gibbs) before we took BP, ‘do you think I should swing with two hands all the way through,’” said Watson of his two homer day. “He said, yeah, give it a shot. My first round went really good, and I said, all right, I'm going to stick with this. I took it to the game and went to the game just like planned, and it worked out really well.”
“The biggest highlight of the day for me was the bottom third of our order. Josh swung the bat well,” Mainieri said. “We talked enough about Zach's two home runs and even he smoked a ball right at the second baseman, the kid made a diving catch or he might have had another RBI there.”
With the win, LSU advances to the winner’s bracket and awaits the winner of Friday night’s Rice-Southeastern Louisiana game at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night.