For the third SEC series in a row, LSU (18-8, 3-4) is down in a 1-0 hole.
Ater rallying last weekend to take the series from Florida, LSU took a step back and dropped the series opener to Auburn 6-5.
LSU was largely in control of Thursday’s opener thanks to solo home runs by Cade Doughty in the first and Hayden Travinski in the fourth; that was until a disastrous fifth inning struck where the Tigers surrendered all six runs with two outs.
Cole Foster led off the inning with a base hit and Josh Hall was able to bunt single his way onto first base despite three LSU fielders in the area of the ball and the bag. But it looked like Blake Money would be able to get out of the jam and got a sac bunt and pop out for outs one and two. Money intentionally walked Sonny DiChiara to load the bases and Auburn made LSU pay for it with a two-run single by Cam Hill. The play was ruled a base hit but Tre’ Morgan maybe should’ve made the play.
Auburn’s next batter, Cam Hill, then took Money deep for a three-run shot to give Auburn a 5-2 lead.
Auburn would go on to score a sixth run—I’ll remind you they did all this with two outs—thanks to an error by Jordan Thompson. If my math is right LSU now has 41 errors this season and ranks in the 250s nationally in fielding percentage (somewhere in the .950s which is the worst mark since 2007).
“We got the ground ball that we wanted and we didn’t make the play and that’s not the end of the game,” Jay Johnson said. “If we can play through that mistake a little better then you get the lead back or we’re still playing right now.”
Money was able to get out of the inning but wouldn’t return to the game after throwing 104 pitches and being charged for five of the six runs. Money was tagged with the loss dropping his record to 2-2 this year. Ryan Collins came on in the sixth inning and pitched well, going 3.2 innings and only allowed four hits. If nothing else his effort preserved LSU’s bullpen for Friday and Saturday.
LSU was almost able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. The Tigers got a pair of runs back in the eighth inning thanks to a Brayden Jobert two-run shot to right.
LSU was then able to get within a run in the ninth inning. Cade Doughty led the inning off with a single and advanced to third thanks to a single by Tre’ Morgan. Dylan Crews brought Doughty home by way of a sac fly to center that would also move Morgan to scoring position. But with the tying run in scoring position and one out, Jacob Berry struck out swinging and Jordan Thompson fouled out to right.
While that fifth inning doomed LSU, the Tigers certainly did themselves no favors with the remaining 15 outs they had to work with. LSU was 0-9 with runners in scoring position and 1-10 at the plate with two outs.
“It’s tough to know you got beat by one inning, but that’s baseball,” Jobert said. “You just try to minimize the damage done in that one inning.”
LSU will try to recreate the magic shown at Florida last week and even the series on Friday.