LSU played an unusual 4-game weekend as it faced off against Butler and Central Connecticut.
LSU defeated Butler both times, 12-2 last Friday and 11-0 on Monday. LSU also defeated Central Connecticut both times, 26-4 on Saturday and 13-0 on Sunday.
There were a lot of things that happened this past weekend, so let’s look at what stood out on the baseball diamond this past weekend.
The Resurrection of Belly
First baseman Cade Beloso wasn’t on anyone’s radar coming into this year due to the massive haul of transfers LSU head coach Jay Johnson pulled in and this year’s ultra-talented freshman class, ultimately keeping him in the dugout.
Beloso has not seen the field in two years due to injuring his knee during pregame warmups last season before the first game of the year. When the year started, he was in the dugout cheering and providing leadership to some of the younger members of the team.
However, after this weekend, Beloso will now be in the lineup after his awesome performance at the plate.
Beloso went 4-for-4 as a pinch hitter and recorded one double, two homers and seven RBIs in three games. Because of his performance in those three games, Beloso got his first start of the year at first base against Butler Monday night, where he was 2-for-4 at the plate.
New Game, Same Skenes
Junior right-hander Paul Skenes had another dominating performance on Friday night against Butler.
Skenes limited Butler to no runs on one hit with no walks and a career-high 13 strikeouts, firing 80 pitches in the outing. After he allowed a two-out single in the first inning, Skenes retired 16 straight Butler hitters to complete his outing. 13 of those 16 batters were struck out.
His 13 Ks were the most by an LSU pitcher since March 2, 2018, when Zack Hess recorded 13 strikeouts in an 8-1 victory over Toledo.
Skenes was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week for his performance.
If there was anything we learned this weekend is that the Tigers were absolute bullies, stealing their victims’ lunches one by one.
LSU outscored their opponents, Butler and Central Connecticut State, by a score of 62-6 over four games and averaged 15.5 runs per game. LSU also hit eight home runs during that same 4-game stretch.
LSU’s biggest output was in its 26-4 win on Saturday over Central Connecticut State, which was the most runs scored by the Tigers since a 27-0 victory over Northwestern State on May 13, 2014. LSU hammered four home runs and 11 different Tigers recorded at least one hitter. Moreover, LSU averaged an extraordinary five baserunners per inning.
Paxton’s Big Weekend
After having a rough start to the season, true freshman outfielder Paxton Kling finally found his stride over the weekend.
After batting .133 on the year coming into the weekend, Kling went on a hitting explosion. Kling went 7-for-9 and tallied two doubles, a triple and three RBIs.
Kling’s best performance of the 4-game stretch came in LSU’s 11-0 victory over Butler on Monday night. Kling went 3-for-3 at the plate and recorded a double and a home run, the first of his career. Kling recorded a stolen base as well.
“He’s talented, it was just going to be a matter of time,” Johnson said after Kling’s performance in Saturday’s 26-4 where he went 3-for-4 from the plate and recorded an RBI triple. “He’s just one of those guys who will be the best player in the program at some point.”
Calm During the Storm
One thing that has been noticeable this season is that pitching coach Wes Johnson likes to use relievers Nate Ackenhausen and Garrett Edwards in high-pressure situations. It showed up again in Sunday’s 13-0 victory over Central Connecticut when there were two separate occasions where the bases were loaded.
At the top of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and the Blue Devils threatening to reduce a 4-0 gap, Ackenhousen came in relief for starting pitcher Chase Shores. Ackenhousen, who was extremely clutch in relief in the 3-0 win over Texas on Feb. 28, calmly struck out the final batter of the inning to keep the Blue Devils from scoring.
At the top of the sixth inning, Central Connecticut had a great opportunity for a rally as the bases were loaded again with zero outs. Pitching coach Wes Johnson called right-handed reliever Garrett Edwards from the bullpen to get LSU out of the jam. It was the right call as Edwards struck out the first batter he faced and forced the next batter to ground out for a double play.