Propelled by a career night from Saul Garza at the plate, LSU defeated cross-town opponents Southern 8-3 Tuesday evening in Alex Box Stadium.
Garza set his career single-game high in RBI (four) and tied his career single-game hit (three) and runs scored (two) record with his 3-4 performance that included a pair of RBI singles and a two-run home run.
“It was a good day,” Garza said with a smile. “I felt great. Guys ahead of me were giving me a pretty good scouting report on what I was about to face. Luckily they were pretty spot-on with what they’re telling me and I got a few pitches to handle.”
Nick Storz had a great outing in relief with three scoreless innings where he only gave up a pair of hits and walk while striking out three. Storz combined with Matthew Beck to give LSU (3-1) five innings of scoreless ball where they only surrendered three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
“For me, the highlight of the night was Nick Storz going out there and pitching three innings,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “I had a tough time watching the game with the tears in my eyes to be honest with you with that that kid’s been through. But what really was a key for us to win the game was him going out there and giving us three innings. He did a tremendous job.”
The outing marked Storz’s second appearance since May 9th, 2018 after he missed all of 2019 with injury. Even as a freshman, Storz was hampered by injuries and only made two appearances.
“It means the world to me,” Storz said. “These last three years have been extremely difficult not being able to play, taking something that you love out of your life. So to get back out there and help this team in any way is huge for me just because they’ve been there for me the past three years. They’ve helped me get through it and now it’s my time to help them out.”
Southern (2-3) opened the scoring in the second inning when an error from Cade Doughty opened the door for a pair of runs to score on back to singles from Bubba Thompson and Brad Jenkins and a Frankie Montesino sacrifice fly.
That inning would mark the end of LSU starting pitcher Brandon Kaminer’s day. Kaminer threw for two innings where he allowed two runs, none earned, on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Of Kaminer’s 30 pitches, 20 were for strikes.
LSU replied in the third inning with as many runs to take the lead. The inning began with back to back walks to Gavin Dugas and Daniel Cabrera, who came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Zack Mathis and a single from Garza. The Tigers took a 3-2 lead when Cade Beloso hit a line drive to right that a diving Brad Jenkins couldn’t come up with, putting Beloso at third with the first triple of the 6-0, 236-pound first baseman’s career.
“I don’t know what to say to that,” Mainieri laughed. “Something might freeze over tomorrow. Cade always tells me he’s a real fast runner and he had the opportunity to prove it there.”
Gavin Dugas added another run in the fourth with his first home run of the year, a solo blast that cleared the Left Field Landing and ballpark altogether.
Not to be outdone, Garza followed suit in the following inning with a two-run moonshot, also to left. Garza returned to the dish in the next inning to pick up his fourth RBI in as many at-bats with a two-out single up the middle to score Cabrera and make it 7-2 LSU.
“They weren’t just four RBIs, they were all RBIs,” Mainieri said. “A home run and a two-out single, it was a great night.”
Garza didn’t get a chance to break his single-game hit record as he was pinch hit for in the 8th inning by Hayden Travinski. Naturally, Travinski recorded his first and his first home run when he sent a 1-1 pitch to the Diamond Deck in right field.
It would have been understandable if the hot-hitting Garza didn’t want to come out of the lineup in the midst of a career night, but he was more than happy to share the magic of the cleanup spot with his hard-working teammate.
“Oh man, I was so happy for Travinski,” Garza said. “First career homer, oppo taco, that was big time. Hayden’s a guy who works extremely hard. He’s always down there in the cages, it feels like he lives down there. And pinch-hit at bat is tough to do for him to come in and hit that homer, that was big.”
Southern added a run in the 9th on an RBI groundout with the bases loadd after a leadoff double, single, and a one-out walk.
LSU will hit the road Wednesday night for a 6:00 p.m. game against Nicholls. The game will be broadcast on CST and online via ESPN3 outside of Louisiana and on the radio at 100.7 FM.