Top-ranked LSU has finished their four-game campaign in the Austin metroplex after winning the Round Rock Classic belt and dramatically beating Texas with a late three-run homer.
LSU won two out of three games against Kansas State and Sam Houston. Even though the Tigers lost against Iowa, they beat out the Hawkeyes for the championship belt by run differential.
LSU beat Texas by a score of 3-0 in another epic game between the two powerhouse programs in Austin at Disch-Falk Field after a late home run to win the game after eight scoreless innings.
Here are some takeaways from the unforgettable four-game stretch that took place deep in the heart of Texas.
Dylan Crews just being Dylan Crews
Hey Pittsburgh! Dylan Crews says hello!
The LSU outfielder keeps proving to MLB scouts why he is projected to be the top pick in this year’s MLB draft with another dazzling performance at the plate at the Round Rock CLassic.
During the Round Rock Classic, Crews batted a ridiculous average of .692 along with three doubles, seven RBIs and six runs. Crews also went 5-for-6 w on Sunday night’s game vs. Sam Houston with three RBIs and three doubles. In Sunday night’s 16-4 win over Sam Houston that clinched the Round Rock Classic, Crews went 5-for-6 at the plate with three doubles, four RBIs, and four runs.
For his efforts, Crews was named the MVP of the Round Rock Classic.
Just like Joe Burrow’s 75-yard touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson on third and seventeen during its win against Texas to seal the game in Austin on Sept. 7, 2019, second baseman Gavin Dugas stunned the Longhorn crowd at Disch-Falk Field.
With runners on first and second, Dugas went to the batter’s box and hammered a pitch over the left-center wall at Disch-Falk Field that gave the Tigers the 3-0 victory and his third home run of the year.
“That was awesome, a great at-bat by Gavin,” Johnson said after the game. “To win games like this against a good team in an environment like this, your dudes have to be dudes, and he was in that moment. Gavin is tough-minded; he had some setbacks last year and going into this year, but he got himself ready to play, and he’s playing better now than he ever has. All credit to him for his determination.”
Dugas has batted .444 on the year along with one double, three home runs and seven RBIs.
Pitching staff impresses again, but rotation still needs tinkering
Junior right-hander Paul Skenes was impressive once again as he pitched six innings, limiting the Wildcats to one run on two hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts for his second win of the season. Skenes retired 17 of the final 18 Kansas State hitters that he faced. For his efforts, Skenes was voted to be a member of the Round Rock Classic All-Tournament team
Right-hander Ty Floyd relieved Skenes at the top of the seventh and struck out three batters Floyd. Floyd finished the day with two runs, two hits, and five strikeouts in three innings pitched and picked up his first save of the season.
Relievers Griffin Edwards and Blake Money were also impressive during the 15-4 victory over Sam Houston Sunday night.
Edwards, who came in relief after Bryce Collins struggled after coming in for starter Chase Shores, fired for 3.1 innings and only allowed one run while also retiring 10 batters and striking one batter out to pick up his first win of the season.
Money finished the game for LSU as he struck out two out of the three retired batters in the ninth inning to seal the deal for the Tigers.
LSU started right-hander Thatcher Hurd against Texas Tuesday night and was excellent through 4.1 innings. Hurd struck out four batters while only walking three batters.
However, the pitcher who starred for LSU was Owasso, Okla. native Nate Ackenhausen. Ackenhausen came in for Hurd during the fifth inning and stole the show in Austin. Ackenhausen struck out four batters and only allowed one hit through 3.1 innings for the first win of his LSU career.
LSU right-hander Christian Little pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth to earn his first save of the year.
However, LSU still needs to figure out its pitching rotation.
LSU left-hander Riley Cooper, who was an excellent relief pitcher and impressed in the first start of his career against Western Michigan, struggled against Iowa in a 12-4 blowout loss.
Although Cooper struck out five Iowa batters, he allowed five earned runs on seven hits in three innings pitched. Relievers Sam Dutton and Will Hellmers also struggled against the Hawkeyes.
Shores has potential, but it’s too early to have him as a starting pitcher on the weekends and will probably be better coming out of the bullpen.
By the time SEC play starts, Hurd will be healthy enough to pitch on the weekends and Floyd will be promoted to the starting rotation.
LSU needs to limit its strikeouts
LSU, even with their offensive success, has struck out way too many times for a team that is favored to go to Omaha this year.
In LSU’s four games of the season, the Tigers struck out 20 times, with its highest being eight in LSU’s 5-3 victory over Western Michigan on Feb. 17. LSU’s average strikeout total during the first four games was five.
During LSU’s Austin-Round Rock campaign, the Tigers struck out 54 batters, almost double from the previous four games. LSU’s worst day at the plate came during the 3-0 victory over Texas where the Tigers struck out 16 times. Between the three-game Round Rock Classic tournament and the Texas game, LSU averaged 13.5 strikeouts a game.
“We want to eliminate the ones we shouldn’t have, but we will have some,” Johnson said.
This could be because LSU has two true freshmen in catcher Brady Neal and first baseman/designated hitter Jared Jones in the batting lineup. Because of that inexperience at the plate at the collegiate level, it could lead to bad strikeouts. However, LSU’s aggressive play style at the plate could be to blame as well, but it is an issue that can be solved over time once the season gets going.