Cardinals snaps Tigers’ six-game losing streak
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Jared Poche’s 13-inning scoreless streak wouldn’t last long into Friday night’s series-opener against Ball State.
LSU’s six-game winning streak, as it turns out, wouldn’t survive the night, either.
Cardinal hitters homered four times off Poche’ — two coming off the bat of catcher Jarrett Rindfleisch — and the formally red-hot LSU bats felt silent with men on base. LSU (10-3) stranded ten in falling to Ball State (8-7), 7-1, before a space crowd on what turned into a gorgeous evening at Alex Box Stadium.
“Honestly, it was just one of those nights where the other team played a lot better than we did,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “They deserved to win. They just whipped us tonight.”
LSU put men on base against Ball State starter Kevin Marnon all night but were repeatedly unable to do anything with the chances.
Bryce Jordan, back after missing the midweek game with an ankle injury, stranded a pair of men on base in the first and left the bases loaded in the fifth. His brother, Beau, left men on first and second in the fourth. The Nos. 4 and 5 hitters in the LSU lineup combined to strand eight runners between them.
“He made us look bad,” Bryce Jordan said. “But other than that, we were seeing him pretty well. He just got the better of us tonight, so hats off to him. He just came out here and threw strikes.”
LSU didn’t have the leadoff man on base in any inning. The Tigers had at least one runner advance into scoring position in four of the first five innings, but going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position during that stretch — and 0-for-7 on the night — short-circuited any hopes of mounting a comeback bid.
“It’s hard to get a base hit with two outs,” Beau Jordan said. “We had a lot of opportunities with runners in scoring position and two outs, and we couldn’t’ get the big hit. We also couldn’t start any innings because we couldn’t get the leadoff man on. It makes it hard to score.”
An aggressive-swinging group of Cardinal hitters went to the plate hunting fastballs from Poche’, and when they got them, they swung for the fences.
Rindfleisch drilled a 0-1 fastball off the back of the left field grandstands to start the scoring with a solo shot in the second. One inning later, right fielder Alex Call jumped on a first-pitch heater and sent a two-run blast to deep left center.
Poche’ (2-1) seemingly settled in from there, retiring eight in a row before Rindfleisch pounced on yet another first-pitch heater for his second solo homer of the game.
Two batters later, Sean Kennedy’s first-pitch blast chased Poche’ from the game trailing having allowed a season-high five earned in 5.2 innings.
“You’ve got to give credit to those guys,” Poche’ said. “They put good swings on balls. They definitely had a great game plan coming in and they executed it. From my standpoint, I have to be better than that. I have to execute pitches in all counts. You have to give those guys credit.”
LSU finally got on the board against Marnon (2-2) in the sixth. Trailing 5-0, second baseman Cole Freeman rocketed an RBI double to deep left field that scored third baseman O’Neal Lochridge all the way from first base.
That double chased Marnon after 5.2 innings of work, and the Cardinals moved designated hitter Zach Plesac to the mound. He got Kramer Robertson to pop to shallow center to strand Freeman and fired three more scoreless frames to nail down his first save.
The Cardinals responded quickly with a pair of two-out runs (one earned) against reliever Doug Norman. Center fielder Matt Eppers scored on a Freeman throwing error and first baseman Caleb Stayton lined a 3-0 offering for an RBI double to extend the lead to 7-1.
LSU will look to even the series on Saturday night with Alex Lange on the mound. Reminder that first pitch has been moved back to 6:30 p.m. due to afternoon storms in the forecast.