Greg Deichmann was safe at home. The run should have counted, and LSU should have had the lead going into the fifth inning in their series opener Friday night against Mississippi State.
Deichmann wasn't ruled safe. It was a blown call.
Thing is, these things happen all the time in baseball and teams need to learn how to overcome them. This is the adversity that is always referred to during postgame press conferences. From a cold hard facts perspective the call was a non-factor since State ended up beating LSU by more than one run. But that call not only ended the inning that had potential for more scoring, it affected the LSU team for the rest of the game.
What did directly affect the game was Cole Freeman's error in the first inning when Drank dropped the exchange on a potential inning ending double play. As a result the bases were loaded for State and on the next pitch Nathaniel Lowe took Jared Poche' deep for four runs.
LSU would fight back for two runs in the second when they strung four singles in a row during a two out rally. The score would remain the same throughout the Bryce Jordan single that brought Deichmann home and into to the sixth, where in his last frame of work Jared Poche' ran out of gas and gave up three runs.
Austin Bain was charged with the task of damage control, a job that proved too large for him on Friday night. Two singles and a walk to start the inning led to the Bulldogs putting two more runs on the board to make their lead nine to four.
Antoine Duplantis made it game with one swing of the bat in the seventh when he hit his first career home run, a grand slam.
(Personally, I was perfectly fine with trading off a loss to start the series for seeing Antoine Duplantis hit a grand slam for his first career home run. That was a thing of beauty.)
But Gilbert came in and quickly lost the plot, getting out of the eighth inning with three runs surrendered, a hole LSU was not able to climb out of.
The Duplantis grand slam notwithstanding, after the blown call at home the air was sucked out of the park. LSU simply couldn't find it inside of themselves to get past it and mentally they weren't prepared to continue with the game. That's not making excuses for a lackluster pitching performance, that's just an observation that I firmly believe in.
Saturday, Alex Lange was robbed. After turning in a complete game performance that included just four hits leading to one earned run, striking out seven and only walking one...he was charged with a loss. As he submitted his magnum opus of the season, the offense failed to make his work worthwhile. Austin Sexton was not a reincarnation of Cy Young Saturday, as LSU tapped him for five hits, but stranded six runners on base. Down a game in a series, LSU reverted back to their old anemic offensive state, the same team that lost an embarrassing game to McNeese and stumbled out of the blocks in SEC play. Lange's only mistake was a first inning solo shot, the other run came when Greg Deichman failed to put out Jeff Mangum. A walk and two singles would score the second run for State, which proved to be the game.
LSU was able to scrap together a run in the eighth when Beau Jordan wore a pitch, advanced by a walk of Freeman and scored via two consecutive groundouts. That would be all for the Tigers and Alex Lange ended up losing one of the best games he's thrown in the purple and gold.
After losing their first series to Mississippi State in the Paul Mainieri era, LSU came into the Sunday with just one objective: avoid the sweep. That lone objective seemed too large to handle after Mississippi State hit John Valek III for this combination in the third inning:
LSU was able to put their foot in their sand and push back when Jake Fraley led off the fourth inning with a pop up that the State pitcher Konnor Pilkington lost in the sun. Beau singled and then Fraley was scored on a double by Jordan Romero, then a Kramer Robertson groundout scored Beau. Deichmann, for all the issues he had in games one and two, finally benefited from an error on the second baseman that allowed Romero to score. After Bryce Jordan grounded out to second and Chris Reid poked one through the six hole, Cole Freeman singled to center, scoring Deichmann.
LSU had a four run fourth to take the lead and doubled that the next inning. With two outs, Beau Jordan doubled to left center and was promptly followed by Kramer doing the same thing, only adding an RBI to it. Deichmann was walked then promptly advanced on a wild pitch that scored Kramer. Bryce Jordan made that walk hurt by taking Zac Houston deep to left field.
State immediately put two more on the board in the sixth, but LSU responded by making another walk hurt when Fraley tripled in Antoine Duplantis. A double play scored Fraley, and with two outs Robertson lined a shot out of the park for the third run in the inning.
Mississippi State made it interesting in the eighth when they tacked three runs on the board thanks to three singles, a hit by pitch, and a walk, but that was all that was doing for the Bulldogs and the Tigers were able to salvage game three 11-8.
The lone consistent in the lineup all week was Kramer Robertson who was six for 13 at the plate, although all of three RBIs and two runs scored came on Sunday. That's kind of how it was for the Tigers. There would be an occasional spark but it wouldn't make the growth to a flame that they needed. Mississippi State was frankly the better team for two games, despite a heroic effort from Alex Lange. This isn't a death blow for LSU in regards to a possible hosting bid, but it does make the road that much more harder and adds an emphasis to the team's showing in Hoover this season.
LSU travels to New Orleans Tuesday night for the away leg of their fixture with arch rivals Tulane at six on the CBS Sports Network, the channel nobody gets, before taking to Oxford to play another rival in Ole Miss. The series with the Diamondbearz starts at six Thursday on the SEC Network, with game two Friday at 6:30 on the SECN+. The finale Saturday at 11 will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Game 1 - LSU 8, Miss. St.12
Game 2 - LSU 1, Miss. St. 2
Game 3 - LSU 11, Miss. St. 8