Behind a yeoman’s effort from AJ Labas, LSU picked up an unbelievably crucial series with over arch rivals Ole Miss with a 7-2 victory.
Labas pitched a complete game, allowing two runs off 10 hits and just one walk while striking out sic on 126 pitches. The two runs Labas allowed came off a solo home run in the sixth inning and three singles in the ninth when the game was in hand and his pitch count above 100 to start the inning.
“I felt like after the first inning when I got those nerves out, from the second inning to the last inning I was getting better and better,” Labas said. “I was making my pitches and made sure I kept the ball down and kept hitters off balance. Throughout this whole start I felt like I was getting stronger and stronger as the game went on.”
“He’s been doing it all year,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “He’s had one below par performance against Louisiana Tech in his first start of the year and since then he’s been automatic. He’s pitched great and courageously. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff but he makes great pitches.”
“He competes all the way through, and he’s been a great leader for our team.”
LSU (24-14) scored the game’s first runs in the sixth inning when Gavin Dugas and Cade Doughty led off the inning with a double and a single. Dugas scored on a fielder’s choice and DiGiacomo scored on two-out single from Tre’ Morgan to give LSU a 2-0 lead.
But Ole Miss (27-12) could get a run back in the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run.
Just when it looked him the game was going to come down to a matter of the Tigers clinging to a one-run lead, they jumped on a vulnerable Rebel bullpen and hung five runs in the ninth inning to put the game out of doubt and seal a crucial victory.
LSU got an assist with some shoddy defense to start the inning after Tre’ Morgan led off the inning with a single. A balk call put Morgan at second, which led to Ole Miss intentionally walking Dylan Crews. A throwing error then loaded the bases for Gavin Dugas, who promptly took the first pitch he saw and deposited it into left field for a grand slam and giving LSU some much-needed insurance.
“I knew there was a good chance it may hit the wall,” Dugas said. “I knew there was a little bit of topspin to the ball so I was trying to get to first a little bit quicker than most home run type swing, I guess you could say. But luck was on our side and it went over and I’m very thankful for that. And I’m pretty excited about it too.”
But the damage wasn’t done, as DiGiacomo reached on a dropped third strike and came around to score on a Drew Bianco single to put LSU up 7-1 over his dad’s club.
Ole Miss was able to scratch across a run off three hits in the bottom half of the ninth, but Labas was able to hold firm and finish the complete game.
“I wasn’t taking the ball away from him tonight,” Mainieri said. “The score was 2-1 going into the ninth inning. Of course we hit the grand slam and got the other run, but if it was still 2-1 it was going to be his ball game, he was going to win it or lose it. He wanted the ball. Fortunately we got some runs and made it a little easier for him.”
Believe it or not, LSU will go for the sweep in Oxford at noon tomorrow, weather permitting. The game will be broadcast online on SECN+.