It was a tight game, until it wasn’t.
Sacred Heart put up enough of a fight to hold LSU in a duel for 1 out shy of 5 scoreless innings. But when the Tigers started squaring up on Sacred Heart lefty James Taubl, the game broke open in a hurry in a 7-0 win.
LSU has had trouble with lefties from outmatched opponents for what seems like years, and tonight against Sacred Heart started out like a bad midweek upset. The Tigers managed four hits through the first four innings, but only threatened in the fourth stanza, stranding two in scoring position on a Brandt Broussard pop out in short right. Meanwhile, Caleb Gilbert was having a much improved start, striking out five on 3 hits with a pair of pickoffs for some added flair.
And then the doors fell off.
In the bottom of the fifth with two outs, Austin Bain sent a liner into deep left center that just bounced of the center fielder’s glove. In a less generous park it would have been an error, but officially that double set the wheels in motion for an avalanche. A Hunter Feduccia RBI single, Beau Jordan RBI triple, Jake Slaughter RBI single, and a Nick Webre double turned a good night for Sacred Heart’s Taubl sideways. He was pulled for Frosh right-hander Cooper Thompson who, despite a beautiful flowing mane, was immediately shelled by a Bryce Jordan two-RBI single and a Broussard RBI single. Thompson would then hit Huges and Sacred Heart opted for a quick change. Reliever John Cerretani gave up a double steal and walked the bases loaded with Duplantis. Sacred Heart finally got some mercy as Bain, who had started the two-out rally sent an easy pop into center. The two-out, seven-hit, six-run rally put the tight game away in a matter of minutes.
Despite the long bottom inning, Gilbert stayed strong, facing one over the minimum for the rest of his outing, only giving up a triple that was slightly misjudged by Beau Jordan playing in right this evening. Gilbert was pulled int the eighth after hitting a pitch count of 101 pitches. Matt Beck finished off the remaining 1.1 innings without incident. The bullpen should be pretty fresh for tomorrow’s rematch with Southeastern.
The Tigers got one more run in the seventh, scored by Webre after his lead off double was followed by a pair of walks and a sac fly from Antoine Duplantis. LSU left 11 men on base, which would be of more concern if not for the shutout 7-0 final score.
There’s a bit to talk about defensively. Hunter Feduccia continues to show why he was the original choice to start behind the plate this season. After his substitutes gave up 10 stolen bases in the Notre Dame weekend, LSU now leads the SEC in caught stealing and his quick arm eliminated what few threats the Pioneer’s made. On the other hand, Beau Jordan had a few iffy plays in right that turned singles into doubles and triples. His judgement needs a little refinement and his lack of burst speed, at least compared to the other outfield options on the roster, means his mistakes tend to hurt more. Mainieri’s lineup tweaking will continue.
The rematch with Southeastern is set for 3pm Sunday on SECN+, assuming the Sacred Heart — Toldeo breakfast baseball finishes on time.