LSU rallied from four runs down in the bottom of the 9th to complete the sweep of Tennessee in dramatic fashion. Daniel Cabrera played the role of hero, hitting the walkoff three-run home run to right to give the Tigers the 9-7 victory.
“That’s what I came here for,” Cabrera said. “To play the best and win games like this. This is awesome. This is probably my favorite memory. I kind of blacked out when I hit it though.”
It was just the second time since 1972 that LSU won after trailing by 4 runs or more heading into the 9th inning. The first time? Just some Saturday night game against Arkansas in 2016.
“We had them right where we wanted them,” LSU coach Paul Maineri joked after the game. “It’s hard to put into words what we just witnessed today.”
Paul Mainieri decided to experiment with the third weekend starter and gave the nod to freshman Devin Fontenot. Fontenot pitched well in his short outing, lasting for two inning where he allowed two hits to score a run (earned) and struck out four before handing it off to the bullpen Voltron known as Taco Bell Anderson.
All told, LSU used seven pitchers in the contest: Fontenot, AJ Labas, Todd Peterson, Matthew Beck, Nick Bush, John Kodros, and Taylor Peterson. Those seven pitchers combined to throw for nine innings of nine-hit baseball and allowed seven runs with five of them earned on six walks and 11 strikeouts. Matthew Beck had the best outing outside of Fontenot, throwing two innings of hitless ball and striking out three but issuing two walks.
Tennnessee grabbed an early lead after Nico Mascia led off the Tennessee 2nd with a double to right and scored on a single to right from Pete Derkay. The Volunteers added three more in the following inning after back to back two out singles from Justin Ammons and Andre Lipcius set up Nico Mascia for a three-run home run to the Diamond Deck in right field, putting the guests up 4-0.
Through the first 3 innings LSU got the leadoff batter on each time but failed to score them. The Tigers broke that curse in the 4th when Austin Bain reached on a double to get the inning rolling for LSU. He moved to second on a groundout with two outs and was able to reach home on a passed ball, putting the Tigers on the board.
LSU trimmed the Vols’ lead to just one after Zach Watson was hit by a pitch before Duplantis and Bain hit back to back two out doubles to bring LSU to within 4-3.
Tennessee put a run back on the board to provide some separation on an awkward play in the top of the 7th. Jay Charleston reached on a one out single and moved to scoring position on a wild pitch. Ammons followed him with a walk, which set up Lipcius hitting a tapper back to the mound. Nick Bush turned to second to get the first leg of the double play, but instead of throwing to shortstop Hal Hughes his throw went to Austin Bain behind the bag. Bain was able to get the throw to first to retire Macias, but Charleston believe the double play had been turned and continued to run, scoring all the way from second on the 1-4-3 putout.
Tennessee continued to add runs to their lead in the 8th with two more runs. Derkay reached on a one out single and scored on Brodie Leftridge single to left. Leftridge advanced to third to a wild pitch and scored on a fielding error from Slaughter.
LSU’s bottom of the 9th started off ominous note as pinch hitter Chris Reid reached base on a fielding error by the shortstop Lipcius. Beau Jordan followed suit with a single and Zach Watson hit into a fielder’s choice, but the throw to get Jordan sliding into the second was off line and Reid was able to round third and score on the play, cutting the lead down to 7-4. That was enough to chase Neely from the game and bring in Volunteer closer Zach Linginfelter. Linginfelter hit Duplantis to load the bases and gave up a two-run double to Austin Bain to allow LSU to pull within a run before getting the hook for Andrew Schultz.
“Going up, they told me (Linginfelter) had a plus plus fastball,” Bain said, “I was geared up ready for a fastball and he gave it to me. I just hit it as hard as I could and I just made contact to score them. I felt like the momentum kept snowballing.”
By the way, Bain was warming up in the bullpen all the up until the time he was due to be on-deck in case the inning ended tied before he could go bat. He had seen a grand total of one pitch from Linginfelter before he dug into the box since he was occupied in the pen.
“It was different,” Bain said. “It was a little hectic. I was a little out of breath getting down there, coming back and trying to lock in. I hadn’t seen any of his warmup pitches so I was just thinking ‘please don’t throw any offspeed pitches to Twonnie and let him put it in play’ because I did not know what his fastball looked like. But I’m glad I saw one.”
Schultz struck out Hunter Feduccia for the first out of the inning. He didn’t have the same luck with Daniel Cabrera.
“Right when I hit it, I knew it was gone,” Cabrera said. “I was hunting fastballs, he was throwing 94-96. He threw a fastball in and I didn’t think he was going to work around me. I saw fastball and I counted on it...honestly I wasn’t trying to hit a home run, I was just trying to hit something hard. Luckily I got it up in the air and got it over.”
LSU travels to Tulane Wednesday night at 6:30 for the lone midweek game before heading to South Carolina for a big weekend matchup. The Tulane game will not be televised, and all three of the games against USC will be broadcast online via SEC Network+.