LSU wasted no time with Stony Brook in their regional opener, scoring nine runs in the first two innings en route to a 17-3 blowout victory Friday night.
The Tigers move into the marble game of the Baton Rouge Regional against Southern Miss at 6:00 p.m. Saturday. LSU head coach Paul Mainieri confirmed that Cole Henry will start against the Golden Eagles.
After a single and walk in the first inning, LSU turned what would have been the inning-ending double play, but the back end throw from Josh Smith sailed wide, allowing the Seawolves to take an early 1-0 lead.
LSU responded with five runs in their first at-bat, kick started by Antoine Duplantis reaching on an error. After Cade Beloso was hit by a pitch, Stony Brook starter Greg Marino started to struggle with his command in front of the packed Alex Box, walking Zach Watson and Chris Reid to tie the game. Saul Garza then cleared the bases with a double down the first base line before Brandt Broussard scored him with a single to center to give the Tigers a 5-1 lead.
The Bayou Bengals continued to pour it on in the second inning, scoring four runs on three hits in the second. Josh Smith walked and stole second to score on Duplanits’ single through the shift. Duplantis moved to third on a single from Cabrera and scored on a sacrifice fly from Beloso before Zach Watson cranked a two-run bomb over the left field landing.
“What I was really proud about our guys for is that they didn’t let up,” Mainieri said. “Every inning we went up and had terrific at-bats and had some clutch hits. We didn’t have a lot of hits, we only had 10 hits, the same amount as Stony Brook, but our hits really came in clutch situations.”
The Tigers picked up a pair of runs in the third after Broussard reached on an infield single and Smith was hit in the leg with a pitch. Duplantis then brought both runners home with a single to left to push LSU’s team to 10.
Broussard would come back in the next inning to hit a three-run home run to left field, the first of his LSU career, to push LSU’s lead to 14-1.
“It was a changeup that the guy kind of left out there,” Broussard said. “I was a little out in front of it and got it elevated. I guess there was a little breeze out to left...guys were messing with me yesterday saying that I was going to be the only guy to play here and not hit a home run. As it kept going I was saying ‘well that one...might actually make it out of here’ and it snuck out.”
Stony Brook took advantage of a leadoff single in the fifth inning, but the Tigers responded by putting up another trio of runs off two walks, a single, and a sac fly.
One of those hits came from Duplantis, the 352nd of his career which tied him with Eddy Furniss for the school record.
“It was nice to get it out of the way,” Duplantis said. “I hadn’t really been thinking about it the past couple of days. Obviously it had been in the back of my mind. But when I get in the box I think about competing and getting the job done for the team. But it was great. I was fortunate enough to have a ton of people in the stands today because it was a regional game at home. It was a special moment, I’m glad I had family, friends, teammates and coaches here to witness it.”
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of him,” Mainieri said. “I’m sure Furniss is watching in Nacogdoches and very proud of Antoine as well. I count myself as a lucky one to see every one of those hits. Hopefully he has a lot more in him.”
“I’m not just proud of him because he’s got 352 hits,” Mainieri said. “I’m proud of him because he comes everyday and he’s the same Antoine. He works hard and he plays the games the same way: all out. He’s never been in an ounce of trouble. The opposite is true, he’s been the role model, the perfect poster child for this program. Just like Eddy Furniss when he played here. He should be proud to have someone like Antoine to tie his record.”
With a 17-2 lead, Maineri opted to pull Landon Marceaux after five innings where he allowed two runs, one earned and striking out three while walking one. The Tigers appear to have lightly spread the remaining innings among the bullpen to save Marceaux for a Monday appearance if necessary while not taxing any one bullpen arm in particular.
Ma’Khail Hilliard relieved Marceaux and gave up a leadoff home run in his inning of work to give the Seawolves their third run. Trent Vietmeier, Chase Costello, and Rye Gunter also threw an inning each to close out the game.