Hard Luck LSU strands 10 runners, loses Game One to No. 4 Tennessee

Gage Jump will start game one against Auburn on Friday night. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

If it weren’t for bad luck, this year’s LSU baseball team would not have any luck at all.

Need evidence? Three different times on Friday night against No. 4 Tennessee on the road in Knoxville, the hard-luck Tigers loaded the bases and two of the three times LSU came up completely empty-handed.

In between, LSU gave up three runs in an inning where it committed two crucial errors and, in the end, the Tigers lost again because of it.

LSU loaded the bases with one out in the top of the eighth for the second time in the game. For the second time, LSU came up empty. On a frigid night in Knoxville, Tennessee, LSU’s cold bats in key situations and its equally ineffective defense in a key inning had LSU on the ropes, down 6-1.

But then with one out in the ninth, LSU managed again to load the bases, thanks to a single by freshman Steven Milam, and two hit by pitches in a row – first Jake Brown then Jared Jones. Bases were loaded again and Tommy White was at bat.

White hit an RBI single to third, his third hit of the game, to cut the Tennessee lead to 6-2 with the bases still loaded. Freshman Ashton Larson struck out in three pitches, LSU’s 13th whiff of the night.

Mac Bingham represented the tying run at the plate.

Tennessee reliever Kirby Connell’s wild pitch advanced the runners, scoring Brown from third, and LSU still had hope, as the Tigers cut the Vols lead to 6-3.

But with the count 2-2, Bingham grounded out to second base ending the game and stranding two Tigers on base.

LSU stranded 10 runners total during the game and lost 6-3.

Billy Amick and Dylan Drieling each homered for No. 4 Tennessee (27-8, 8-5 SEC) and three Volunteer pitchers combined to strike out LSU (22-13, 3-10 SEC) 13 times.

AJ Causey (6-2) picked up the win for Tennessee. Causey relieved starter Chris Stamos and pitched 4.2 innings, giving five hits, no runs, and striking out seven.

Gage Jump (2-1) was the losing pitcher. Jump pitched four innings, giving up five runs on five hits, striking out five and walking four.

LSU will start ace Luke Holman in game two at 4:30 central in game two. Holman (6-1) has 2.02 ERA with 71 strikeouts and has walked 13 this season. Tennessee will start junior right hander Drew Beam. Beam is 5-3 on the season.

Tennessee struck for three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to go up, 6-1, taking advantage of three hits, a walk and two critical defensive errors by LSU.

Jump issued a five-pitch walk to Christian Moore to lead off the inning before giving up an infield single to Burke. Burke lined a laser past Jones at first base. It bounced off the bag and up into the air coming to rest harmlessly about 15 feet to the right of first base, advancing Moore to second base.

Sam Dutton then replaced Jump on the mound for LSU, and Amick hit a sharp grounder to Milam, who had pinch hit for Braswell in the top of the fifth and replaced him at shortstop. Milam tried to turn a routine double play, nailing Burke at second base, but second baseman Josh Pearson threw the ball short right into the dirt and Jones could not pick it. Amick was safe at first, and Moore scored as the ball rolled into the dugout to put Tennessee up 4-1.

Amick then advanced to third on a wild pitch from Dutton that Brady Neal eventually found the handle on but then threw the ball errantly down the third-base line. Amick scored on Neal’s throwing error.

Kadera Tears followed by grounding out at first for the second out before Drieling crushed a 2-0 Dutton pitch over the right field wall to put the Vols up, 6-1.

Tennessee loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning but only managed to add one run, going up 3-1 on LSU, when Jump walked Tears and Drieling back-to-back, the walk to Drieling driving in Moore from third. But Dean Curley hit a pop fly foul to right field that Larson fielded then fired a strike to B Neal nailing Burke at home for the third out. The play was reviewed and confirmed.

LSU had cut Tennessee’s lead to 2-1 in the top of the third inning when White hit an RBI single, his second hit of the game. But LSU failed to capitalize any further, leaving the bases loaded when Bingham struck out swinging to end the inning.

LSU shortstop Michael Braswell hit a pop fly to shallow left center field that Tennessee lost in the lights and failed to field. It dropped into a one-out double for Braswell. Braswell advanced to third on a 2-2 past ball pitch to Kling. But Stamos struck out Paxton Kling swinging with a glove-side slider on the next pitch. Jones was then walked on a 3-2 pitch, and Tennessee elected to bring in Causey, who had been the Volunteers’ opening game starter up until this series, to face White. White wrapped a 2-1 sinker up the middle for an RBI single that drove in Braswell from third. Causey walked Larson with the count full to load the bases, but he managed to strike out Bingham on four pitches.

Jump threw 45 pitches through the first two innings but managed to get the Volunteers out in order in the bottom of the second inning.

Stamos put down Bingham, Josh Pearson and Hayden Travinski in order in the top of the second.

Tennessee jumped out to a quick 2-0 first inning lead.

Moore led off the bottom of the first by hitting a full-count pitch right back up the middle that Braswell fielded moving to his left and should have been able to throw Moore out at first, but Braswell’s throw was wide right of the bag and Moore was safe.

Burke then hit a grounder to Braswell who threw Moore out at second but Burke was safe at first as LSU failed to turn the double play. Amick then cranked Jump’s first-pitch breaking ball over the left field wall, a two-run shot, Amick’s 11th and Tennessee’s 90th home run of the season, to put the Vols up, 2-0.

Amick had not played since March 24 due to an injury requiring minor surgery.

Jump walked Teares next on a full-count pitch before striking out Drieling, also with the count full. But Kling was able to run down Curley’s deep fly ball at the wall in left-center field to end the first inning.

With one out in the top of the first inning, White doubled off the right field wall, a rocket and the first base hit Tennessee starter Chris Stamos had given up this season to a right-handed hitter. But with an 0-2 count, Larson hit a line drive to the second baseman who then doubled up White and LSU’s early threat ended empty.

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Todd Horne

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