LSU completed the weekend sweep with a pair of wins during Saturday’s doubleheader, although they came in much different fashions.
Cade Doughty lifted the Tigers to a game one victory when he hit a walkoff two-run home run deep into the Left Field Landing to give the Tigers a 5-3 win over Youngstown State. The Tigers then rolled in the second game to a 14-0 victory against Nicholls.
LSU (6-1) stuck from the word go in game one, leading off with a double to left center from Dylan Crews followed by a single from Tre’ Morgan. Cade Doughty scored Crews with his own double to left center before Cade Beloso scored Morgan on an RBI groundout to give LSU a 2-0 lead.
After getting into a bases loaded jam in the first inning, AJ Labas rebound to put together a strong outing, throwing five scoreless innings where he gave up just three hits and two walks while striking out six.
“In the first inning my mechanics were out of whack,” Labas said. “ I was flying open too early and not staying behind pitches like I normally do. After that first inning I just settled down and focused on staying behind the ball, keeping my front shoulder closed, making sure everything goes towards the catcher and not flying toward first base.”
“(Labas) got out of that jam and then really got into a good groove and got through five inning,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “If this was a little later in the season he would have kept going.”
However, LSU was similarly handcuffed by Penguins pitcher Collin Floyd, who threw for 6.1 innings where he only gave up the two runs in the first and seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
Once Labas was taken out of the game before the sixth inning, Youngstown State was able to get onto the scoreboard. A one-out walk came around to score on a groundout, cutting LSU’s lead to one.
The Tigers were able to come back and tack on an insurance run in the seventh inning when Jake Wyeth hit a leadoff single through the left side of the infield, was sacrificed and moved over to third via a groundout, and scored on a single from Morgan.
But the Penguins came right back to tie the game up in the eighth inning. A one-out single was enough to chase Will Hellmers for LSU closer Devin Fontenot, but Fontenot wasn’t his usual self and allowed a walk and back to back singles to give YSU two runs and tie the game at three.
“I tip my hat to that Youngstown State team,” Mainieri said. “They didn’t have any quit in them and they fought back against an All-American closer and got a couple of big hits when they needed to to tie the ballgame up.”
“It was a dogfight.”
With two outs in the ninth inning, Doughty was able to come through in the clutch when he turned around on a 2-2 pitch and deposited it into left, scoring himself and Crews to end the game.
CADE DOUGHTY WALK-OFF HOMER pic.twitter.com/KVlnPBtngt— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) February 27, 2021
Doughty has been squaring the ball up well recently, but has had some bad luck with those hard hit balls going directly to opposing players, resulting with a .227 batting average.
“I was very confident he was going to go up there and hit a ball hard,” Mainieri said. “ I was just hoping it wasn’t going to be right at somebody. But when you hit it over the fence, you’re not gonna have any bad luck. So I was happy to see the ball go into the bleachers. But I would have taken a bloop single right there. That would have made me happy.”
LSU picked up where they left off in game two against Nicholls State (2-3), opening with a leadoff home run from Dylan Crews in the first inning. Bianco and Jordan Thompson then hit back to back home runs to lead off the second inning, putting LSU 3-0.
“Dylan got us off to a good start with his George Springer imitation, leading off the game with a home run” Mainieri said. “Which is what I envisioned. He led off the first game with a double. A lot of people wonder why I lead him off, but that’s exactly why. You love to see the game led off with an extra base hit, be it a double or a home run.”
Then in the fourth inning the Tigers bust the game wide open, scoring six runs on four hits and four walks. The Tigers then came back and added two runs in the fifth, and then one run in the next three innings each, the last coming from a second home run from Bianco in the eighth to make it 14-0.
“Eddie Smith is an outstanding hitting coach,” Mainieri said. “He’s done tremendous work with the guys. He emphasizes attacking the ball and hitting the ball with authority. We didn’t do that the first two games of the season against Air Force. It became a very big point of emphasis after that.”
Landon Marceaux had a sterling outing, throwing six scoreless innings where he allowed just two hits and no walks while striking out an even 10.
“Landon was just in a groove,” Mainieri said. “When Landon is in a rhythm he’s throwing the ball with great command, his fastball has good movement, his velocity is good, his slider and changeup are outstanding. He’s an outstanding pitcher.”
“I think tonight I just put it all together,” Marceaux said. “It was one of those nights. I’m just excited about it.”
Marceaux’s impressive outing puts a cap on a great weekend from the LSU starters where all three combined to throw for 17 innings of scoreless ball where they allowed only six hits, two walks, and struck out 20 batters.
“You get starting pitching like that, you’re gonna have a chance to win some games,” Mainieri said. “It’s a formidable rotation.”
“Us three starters all kind of stick together,” Marceaux said. “It’s more of a how well can we one-up the guy before us thing. Jayden (Hill) leads it off and usually I follow him, but AJ was earlier. It’s a question of can we one up each other and how much better can we do. You kind of use that as motivation.”
“It’s gonna be a fun year to go forward.”
Ty Floyd, Ma’Khail Hilliard, and Michel Fowler then finished off the shutout with three hitless innings each where they struck out four and issued just one lone walk.
However it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for LSU. While celebrating Drew Bianco’s home run in the first inning, Cade Doughty suffered a slight injury to his shoulder after a teammate bumped into him and had to be pulled from the game. Doughty will be evaluated again on Monday.
Nicholls will return to Alex Boc Stadium on Tuesday when they play the Tigers at 6:30 p.m. The Game will be streamed online on SECN+ and aired over the radio on on 100.7 FM.