It takes multiple hits to do the damage of a home run, even if it’s a solo shot, and LSU just couldn’t string enough of them together when it mattered.
Hawaii homered three times off Zack Hess while LSU finished an anemic 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 men on base to drop the series opener 4-2 at Alex Box Stadium on Friday night.
“Usually solo homers don’t beat you, but tonight they did,” Hess said. “When you give up three of them, that doesn’t really help you.”
It was another frustrating night offensively for the Tigers, who’ve now scored a total of five runs in ultra-tight losses to UL-Lafayette and Hawaii. That’s on a heels of a win against Southern where only one of the eight runs scored came to the plate via a hit.
A Brandt Broussard double put the tying runs in scoring position for LSU with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Antoine Duplantis struck out and Beau Jordan popped out to shallow right field.
That was far from the only scoring opportunity squandered in what was a one-run game for eight innings. The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning, but Hal Hughes grounded into an inning-ending double play. LSU (9-6) also left runners in scoring position in the first, third, fifth, sixth and eighth innings.
“The story of the game was we had a couple of opportunities to score and we just didn’t take advantage of them,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “We had the right guys up there. They’re doing their best, and they just came up short tonight.
“You’re frustrated when you get 10 hits and only score two runs.”
Hawaii (8-4) took a 2-1 lead in the early going thanks to a pair of long solo home runs from Ethan Lopez and Maaki Yamakazi. The Rainbow Warriors stuck to a game plan of hunting fastballs from the big right-hander and not swinging at anything off-speed.
Hess made the proper adjustment, featuring a steady dose of late-breaking sliders, but when he made a mistake, it left the yard. Hess allowed just five hits and struck out nine — seven of which were of the looking variety — in seven innings.
LSU briefly tied the game in the sixth thanks to a fantastic bit of defense and a clutch piece of hitting. Duplantis saved at least one run with a diving catch in right field to end the top of the inning.
That allowed Chris Reid to deliver a two-out RBI single to left. The chance to score multiple runs was short-circuited when Daniel Cabrera, who had three hits, made too wide a turn around first base on a base hit to right and got himself tagged out in a rundown.
That draw didn’t last long, though. Logan Pouelsen sat on a 1-0 fastball to lead off the seventh inning and launched a towering solo home run to right-center field. The third homer of the night matched Hawaii’s season total from the previous 11 games combined.
“I left a couple fastballs over the heart of the plate,” Hess said. “You just can’t do that at this level, and you’ve got to give them credit, they capitalized on it. I’ve got to be a little bit better of commanding the strike zone instead of just controlling it.”
The Rainbow Warriors tacked on an insurance run against the LSU bullpen in the top of the ninth. It would have been more were it not for freshman Devin Fontenot, who entered a bases-loaded jam and got a strikeout and a tapper back to the mound to escape.
LSU will look to even the series on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Caleb Gilbert (1-0, 5.67 ERA) will tow the rubber against Hawaii lefty Dominic DeMiero (1-0, 1.89 ERA).