A pair of freshman bookended LSU’s 6-5 victory over Army Saturday.
It started with freshman phenom Landon Marceaux falling just 1⁄3 of an inning shy of a quality start and ended Cade Beloso slamming a three-run home run to erase a 5-3 hole and steal the game.
“It didn’t take long for the new players to find out that there’s something special about playing baseball at LSU,” Mainieri said. “Especially in the Box. These past two nights the atmosphere has been pretty good.”
“These last two nights have been amazing,” Beloso said. “This place is truly special. When these people get rocking...the Box is real. And the energy it brings is electrifying.”
Marceaux pitched excellent in his collegiate debut, throwing 5.2 innings of two hit baseball, allowing one run and three walks while striking out five. Marceaux’s curveball froze a handful of Black Knights and when contact was made, it was usually an easily made ground ball.
Marceaux may have fallen an out shy of a quality start in his first run, but by his standards there was plenty of room for improvement.
“It was a little shaky,” Marceaux said. “My fastball command (was shaky) and I couldn’t find my breaking ball. But I was able to go as deep as I could with what I had. You’re going to have days like that as a pitcher. You have to move on”
In particular, those three walks don’t sit well with him.
“Three walks, that’s unacceptable,” Marceaux said. “Free bases, that’s unacceptable. That’s what really killed us tonight.”
As good as Marceaux was, Army pitcher Daniel Burggraaf was just as resilient. Outside of a throwing error that led to two runs in the first, the senior was excellent. He finished after 6.1 innings with three runs, one earned on four hits and a single walk while striking out five.
“He was outstanding,” Mainieri said. “We’re very fortunate to win the game.”
LSU took the lead in the bottom of the first when Josh Smith led off with a single to the right center gap. Brandt Broussard laid down a bunt to advance him, but the throw from the pitcher was errant and rolled into the bullpen, allowing Smith to score and moving Broussard to third. Antoine Duplantis scored Broussard with a sacrifice fly to center field to give LSU a 2-0 lead out the gate.
Army cut LSU’s lead in half in the 6th inning when Marceaux issued a leadoff walk to Army nine-hole hitter Trey Martin. Martin was sacrificed into scoring position and scored on Drake Titus’ single up the middle.
The Black Knights surged ahead in the top of the 7th with four runs, ignited by Jeremiah Adams’ leadoff single. After a walk to John McKenna, Martin tied the game with a single to right. Another walk to leadoff hitter Hurtubise loaded the bases for Anthony Giachin, who wiped the bases clean with a three-RBI double to put Army ahead 5-2.
“They’re a remarkable group of young men,” Mainieri said, complimenting his opponents. “They played their hearts out and played really well.”
LSU scratched a run across in the bottom half of the inning when Saul Garza was walked with one out. A single from Cade Beloso moved him to second, and both advanced on a wild pitch. A balk brought pinch runner Giovanni DiGiacomo home, but LSU couldn’t score Beloso from third.
Down to their final three outs, LSU opened their final stand with back to back walks to Watson and DiGiacomo against Army closer Sam Messina. During a meeting on the mound, Mainieri told freshman Cade Beloso to let loose and swing hard.
“We recruited Beloso to hit home runs, not to bunt,” Mainieri said. “So I told him to go up there and get his money’s worth. He’s going to challenge you with fastballs, don’t be late.”
Beloso did just that, and delivered a line drive three-run home run to right field to win the game.
“I didn’t even think it was going over,” Beloso said. “I blacked out honestly. I really don’t remember much. I remember seeing the umpire’s hand twirling and I got goosebumps...I was running hard, I thought it was going to be a double off the wall. I was expecting to go to second and pick up the third base coach.”