AJ Labas did all he could to put LSU over in the Sunday rubber match, but the Tiger offense and defense couldn’t seal the deal. As a result, LSU blew an eighth-inning one-run lead and dropped the deciding game three by a score of 3-1.
“Trying to win a 1-0 game is tough, a bad break or one good at-bat by them can turn the game around and that’s what ended up happening,” Mainieri said. “You’ve gotta be able to win the close ones, but it takes a lot of poise and composure to win them.”
The right handed redshirt junior had another phenomenal day on the mound, throwing six scoreless innings, allowing five hits and no walks while striking out six on 81 pitches.
“I feel like I pitched pretty well,” Labas said. “I had command of my fastball on both sides of the plate, inside and outside, then had a really good feel for my changeup like usual. I was keeping their hitters off balance.”
But LSU couldn’t back him with more than one run, only recording six hits and going a downright woeful 1-for-15 with runners on base and just 1-7 with runners in scoring position.
LSU scored the game’s first run in the fourth inning when Zach Arnold and Jordan Thompson hit back to back two-out singles, with Arnold scoring on a throwing error on the left fielder.
Adam Oviedo started the rally for Oral Roberts in the eighth inning with a two-out single up the middle. Caleb Denny followed suit with a double to right, which might have been manageable before errors were committed by both second baseman Zach Arnold and pitcher Will Hellmers, allowing both runners to score and surrendering the lead to the Golden Eagles.
“We were playing as deep as we can and he just hooks it into the one place on the field where you can hit a double where you can’t defend it, right in the corner there,” Mainieri said. “We just didn’t execute the double cutoff very well. I don’t know if we would have had a shot at him or not but obviously the throw was errant. We couldn’t even back it up, it was so errant. And then the kid goes to third and Hellmers tried to make a play and threw it into left field.”
Mainieri explained that Hellmers error was a teaching point for the young freshman, who should have held onto the ball with two outs, which would have meant that Denny could only score with a base hit. Instead, Hellmers air-mailed the throw and gave Oral Roberts the lead in the process.
“The last thing you want to do is give them a gift,” Mainieri said. “The position players are taught that every day, the pitchers are very rarely in a position to have to understand that cardinal rule of baseball. So it’s a teaching point he had to learn the hard way.”
“That was a very difficult one to accept.”
ORU added an insurance run in the ninth when nine-hole hitter Anthony Martinez was hit by a pitch before taking third on a balk. He then came around to score on a two-out single from Ryan Cook to extend the lead to 3-1.
LSU will try to get back in the win column on Tuesday night when they host Texas Southern at 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast online on SECN+.