Chanticleers homer three times to push LSU to the brink of elimination
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina lived up to their prodigious offensive metrics, and Alex Box Stadium, spacious as its confines may be, couldn’t hold the visitors in the yard.
Coastal Carolina chased LSU ace Alex Lange without recording an out in a four-run sixth inning, tagging the right-hander for six earned runs in the process — and it didn’t stop there.
The Chanticleers drilled three home runs — raising their season total to 94, surpassing Mercer for the most in the nation — to outslug LSU, 11-8, and take the opening game of the best-of-three Baton Rouge Super Regional on Saturday night.
“It was really a good ball game, and in the sixth inning they got to Alex a little bit,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “It the seventh inning they hit a couple of home runs. The hits were almost even. I think the difference was they hit three home runs and we hit one.”
“Not really much to say,” Lange said. “It hurts to let your teammates down like that. It just sucks.”
LSU appeared in the midst of staging another late-game rally in the seventh inning, cutting the deficit to four with two men on and nobody out, but CCU coach Gary Gilmore called on All-American closer Mike Morrison to extinguish the threat.
Morrison entered and promptly retired the Nos. 3-4-5 hitters in the LSU lineup to keep the lead in place. He recorded the game’s final nine outs to nail down the result and push the Tigers to the brink of elimination, though a prolonged three-run ninth forced him to 60 total pitches.
“I’ve got to give credit to them,” Greg Deichmann said. “He’s there closer. He’s there go-to guy, so I guess he had some timing and things that messed us up a little bit.”
G.K. Young got the hitting party started in the second inning. The lefty-swinging designated hitter took an outside fastball from Lange the other way for a solo home run that just crept into the left-field bleachers.
Lange looked dominant for a stretch from there, striking out five of the next nine hitters he faced. During that time, the hottest hitter on planet Earth briefly put the Tigers ahead with a blast of his own.
Deichmann got a hanging breaking ball from CCU starter Andrew Beckwith and dropped the barrel on a three-run blast, his fourth of the NCAA Tournament, that nearly cleared the right-field grandstands in their entirety to put his team ahead 3-1.
Coastal Carolina got one back in the top of the fifth in bizarre fashion. Seth Lancaster led off the inning with a hot smash down the first-base line and a bat girl inexplicably picked up the live ball and flipped it into the crowd.
The umpires convened and went to the video review before deciding to rule it a ground-rule double Lancaster advanced to third anyway on a wild pitch and scored on Billy Cooke’s grounder to second base.
LSU answered back with a run in the bottom of the inning — Mike Papierski doubled and came home on the first of two Antoine Duplantis RBI singles — but let a golden opportunity to break the game open slip away.
Gilmore elected to walk Deichmann intentionally to load the bases with two outs and Bryce Jordan left them that way with a foul pop fly off of third base.
“We just didn’t get those timely hits when we needed them,” Deichmann said.
Coastal Carolina wasted no time in seizing momentum.
After a leadoff walk, the first six Chanticleers to bat in the inning reached base safely, forcing Mainieri to come with the hook for Lange. Parker Bugg did an excellent job of damage control, but the four-run inning put LSU in a hole.
“We kind of gave them some life, and they did what good teams do,” Mainieri said. “They took advantage of it.”
Mainieri replaced Bugg with Jake Latz to begin the seventh, and that hole only got deeper. Connor Owings (two-run) and Zach Remillard (solo) drilled back-to-back home runs off the southpaw, and the latter tacked on a two-out RBI single off Austin Bain one inning later.
LSU must now win twice to advance to Omaha, with Coastal Carolina’s first shot at punching its ticket set for Sunday at 8 p.m.
Mainieri said, provided he feels good to go in the morning, lefty Jared Poche’ will get the start an attempt to keep the Tigers’ season alive.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Mainieri said. “There’s no hiding that fact. But we’re handing the ball to a guy we’ve got a lot of confidence in.”