After three innings, Louisiana Tech seemed to be in control of the Monday night’s game. They had just roughed up AJ Labas for seven hits in one inning and eventually chased him after 3.1 innings of work. With most of their front line bullpen arms spent for the weekend, LSU called on freshman Javen Coleman to put out the fire.
Coleman responded by nearly shutting down the Bulldogs, allowing the Tigers to claw back into the game and eventually take the lead they never looked back from with a sixth-inning grand slam from Gavin Dugas followed by a home run from Jordan Thompson en route to a 16-6 victory.
Coleman threw 3.2 innings in his collegiate debut where he allowed only a single solo home run and a walk while striking out out seven, throwing cold water on the hot Louisiana Tech bats.
“He just took complete control of the game,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “He gave our offense a chance to start swinging the bats...I’ve seen a lot of potential out of this kid.”
Louisiana Tech (1-1) took the lead in the third inning with a solo home run from second baseman Taylor Young and then proceeded to bat around, stringing together four runs off four straight hits. LSU responded in the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run from Dylan Crews, but Tech got that run back the next inning with their own solo shot from centerfielder Parker Bates to make it 5-1 and chase Labas from the game.
Labas struggled with his command, namely keeping the ball down in the zone. The Bulldogs recorded five runs (all earned) off 11 hits while striking out eight times and walking once against the redshirt junior.
LSU picked up a run in the fifth when Crews brought home Mitchell Sanford, but Louisiana Tech added another when Coleman made his only mistake of the night and gave up a solo home run to third baseman Hunter Wells.
“I can honestly say starting from the beginning of the game to after we went down 5-1, there was no panic,” Dugas said. “Nobody on our team was freaking out. Everybody was still locked in, nobody ever thought we were out of the game. That’s one thing I’ve noticed about this team, we have a lot of fight in us.”
In the bottom of the sixth, LSU broke through the Tigers led off the inning with three straight singles that brought Gavin Dugas to the plate with the bases loaded. Then Dugas dug in and sent the first pitch he saw to left field for a grand slam to tie the game.
“Right before I got to the plate, coach said to me, ‘You win this fight, you win this battle’,” Dugas said. “It’s something we talked about before the game, that we were going to come out swinging and being aggressive in what we did today, confident in how we handled ourselves. In my mind when I took that swing, I instantly knew that I won that battle and I won that pitch. I kind of took that confidence and ran with it.”
Freshman third baseman Jordan Thompson then followed with a solo home run of his own to give LSU their first lead of the night.
LSU kicked down the door in the next two innings, capitalizing on two errors and walks to score four runs before scoring five runs on four hits in the eighth inning to extend their lead to 16-6.
“It was a relief to everybody,” Mainieri said. “The first two games against Air Force we didn’t get a lot of hits and we didn’t score a lot of runs. I think what happened is once we started to show that we had the ability to hit, that guys were having good approaches and started to come though, that the youthful enthusiasm came out at that point.”
Louisiana Tech was able to get just a lone run back in the ninth inning.
Freshman right fielder Dylan Crews continued to impress, leading the Tigers with a 3-for-4 performance with a home run and 2 RBI with a pair of walks to boot.
“It was really a great team victory today,” Mainieri said. “I was really proud of the guys. It was a total, total team effort.”
LSU returns to action Wednesday night when they travel over the basin bridge to play ULL at 6:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast behind the ESPN+ paywall and be broadcast on 98.1 FM.