It’s a day Will Hellmers and the LSU bullpen is going to want to forget.
The freshman third baseman committed three errors in two innings, and each one led directly to a run scoring, resulting in a rough 6-5 loss for the Tigers to Air Force.
In the fourth inning he let a ball eat him up, allowing Air Force (1-1) right fielder Gabriel Garcia to reach after center fielder Blake Covin reached on a leadoff single. Covin came around to score on a fielder’s choice, but another error from Hellmers allowed Garcia to score and tie the game at two.
After Covin led opened the sixth inning with his third leadoff single of the day with his third leadoff hit of the day and stole second, a third error from Hellmers allowed him to score and give the Falcons the lead.
LSU (1-1) head coach Paul Mainineri absolved the young infielder of shouldering the burden of the loss and instead laid it on himself for putting Hellmers in a tough spot.
“I’ll tell you this, Will Hellmers is a wonderful kid who is a great competitor and will do anything for the team,” Mainieri said. “If there’s anybody to blame it would be for throwing the kid into a difficult situation with that much experience. It’s not a secret that third base has been a problem for us leading up to the season. Will looked good in practice, the ball just found him on some tough chances. And he made several good plays, but the ones that will stand out to you are the ones that he didn’t make.”
“Nobody feels worse than him. He’ll be fine after this.”
LSU briefly took the lead after back to back leadoff walks in the eighth inning came around to score on a single from Zach Arnold to left field, giving the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
That lead would be short-lived, as Ty Floyd and Aaron George would not be able to close out the game and issued a combined four runs and a single which led to three runs and a 6-4 lead for Air Force.
“This is how the young kids have to cut their teeth,” Mainieri said. “If you’re just pitching them when the game’s not on the line you’re not really growing them. I thought Ty Floyd threw well, he was throwing 93 miles per hour and had some close pitches that were called balls and changed the count for him on the first batter and the next thing you know, he’s in a jam. I decided to go to Aaron George, Aaron had only throw 10 pitches yesterday but he kind of has a rubber arm and a little difficult time trying to find the strike zone. He threw a 3-2 pitch to the leadoff hitter and I’m amazed that the kid laid off of it, really.”
LSU got a run back in the ninth when Dylan Crews launched a solo home run in the ninth inning, but that was all for the Tigers.
To compound LSU’s problems, LSU outfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo extended himself to try to catch the bloop from Covin in the sixth inning and appeared to have suffered a lower leg injury in the process and had to be helped off the field.
“It looked to me like he pulled his hamstring,” Mainieri said. “I don’t know the severity of it.”
The loss also wastes a strong starting performance from Landon Marceaux, who allowed two unearned runs on two hits in five innings with no walks and four strikeouts.
“Obviously there are a lot of areas that we need to improve in,” Mainieri said. “We’re going to address them and we’re gonna get better. It’s only the second game of the year, we have a tough game tomorrow, and we’ll get ready for that.
LSU scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the second when DiGiacomo led off the inning with a triple to right field, scoring on a fielder’s choice from Drew Bianco. The Tigers added another run in the next inning when Morgan slammed a single off the left field wall to score Cade Doughty.
LSU wraps up their opening series Monday night when they host Louisiana Tech at 5:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast online on SEC Network+ and over the radio on 98.1 FM.