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Chaos On The Final Pitch Allows LSU To Escape Auburn

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It almost looked as if Landon Marceaux was going to give LSU a wasted gem of a starting performance. Aside from escaping a bases loaded jam in the 1st inning, Marceaux had an excellent 6.2 inning performance, striking out 5 and only giving up 2 runs and facing only 2 batters over the minimum through the 2nd to 6th innings. LSU had scored in the first as Josh Smith lead off the game with a double and was brought home from 3rd on a Zach Watson RBI ground out and carried that 1-0 lead to the 7th.

In the 7th, a few fielding errors cost LSU the lead as a Smith throw to 1st sailed wide to allow lead off batter Rankin Woley on. Later, with that runner on third, Brant Broussard booted a ground ball to right that allowed Woley to score. The next Auburn batter but a ground ball into Hoover’s tricky left field corner that scored another run and gave Auburn the lead. LSU responded in the bottom of the 7th as Broussard got on with a walk, stole 2nd, and came home on a Smith sac fly to tie the game again.

In the 8th, Todd Peterson came on with 1 out and a C Matt Scheffler on 2nd. After inducing a ground ball out, LSU decided to give a free pass to RF Steven Williams, who had only had a walk so far in the game, to get to 3B Edouard Julien, a batter statistically better in every category than Williams. Julien hit a single to deep center that was enough to score the Scheffler from 2nd and give Auburn a 3-2 lead.

LSU then found itself still down 1 in the bottom of the 9th. Giovanni DiGiacomo was brought in off the bench to DH and lead off the inning with a single. Saul Garza followed it with a single to deep left center that allowed him to take 2nd on a slow throw. Broussard then hit a sharp liner to left that didn’t allow anyone to move.

Chris Reid was sent up to pinch hit for Hal Hughes. At this point Auburn went for a pitching change and LSU decided to make a gamble, substituting catcher Garza for the speedy Drew Bianco. I was initially fearing this move, as taking Garza out of the game meant Brock Mathis would take over at catcher, and his mistakes had ultimately doomed LSU earlier this morning against State. Mainieri explained the decision in the postgame, saying that after enduring the marathon, he had no interest in more extra innings and decided to play for the win instead of the tie.

The resulting at bat would pay off Mainieri’s bet. Brooks Fuller’s 1st pitch was low and was booted behind Reid by the catcher Scheffler. In the chaos, Reid waved DiGiacomo home. Rankin Woley, who had sprinted in from 1st, picked up the ball and attempted a throw to home while falling down, throwing very wide and nearly into the Auburn dugout along 3rd base. Bianco, already rounding third at the time of the throw, slid in to home for the walk off win by wild pitch.

In a tournament that is full of unbelievable moments in LSU history, the end of this game still easily ranks among the most unbelievable. And it’s value cannot be denied. LSU’s win against Auburn should be that extra push LSU needs to be given one of the final regional hosting bids in the NCAA tournament.

An exhausted Coach Mainieri said he had no idea who will start tomorrow in the elimination game against Vandy or State, though he did say that it wouldn’t be Cole Henry or any of the pitchers used in the last two games. To me, that sort of indicates we might see Devin Fontenot for a brief outing, though he did throw 65 pitches in Tuesday’s win over SCAR. The game will be the late game, following Ole Miss - Arkansas at 3pm, so there is plenty of time to think on it.