Tigers score nine times in first three innings to take series opener
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Vanderbilt starter Jordan Sheffield blew a 97 mph fastball past Greg Deichmann for the second out of the first inning.
They’d meet again in the third, and this time Deichmann belted an RBI double to the deepest part of Alex Box Stadium clocked off the bat at 107.9 mph.
Two batters later, Kramer Robertson blistered a two-run single back through the box. Then Beau Jordan sent the flame-thrower’s offering deep and gone into the left field bleachers for a two-run shot with an exit velocity of 99.6 mph. The Tigers hammered the highly-touted hurler for nine runs in three innings.
“I think it’s a statement,” Robertson said. “I think we proved now that we can do it, and we’re going to continue to do it. This is a great team with a bunch of good pitchers. That kid isn’t going to get hit like that very often in his career.”
Hardly overshadowed by the offensive explosion, Jared Poche’ twirled a gem to lead LSU (20-9, 5-5 SEC) over Vanderbilt (24-6, 6-4 SEC) in decisive fashion, 13-4, to claim a SEC series opener for the first time this season.
“Obviously I’m really proud of the way the guys played tonight,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “They came out with a very determined attitude. You could see it during batting practice during pregame infield. They were focused. They knew this was a great opportunity.”
Poche’ (W, 4-3), starting on four-day’s rest for the second time in three weekends, matched a career-high with eight strikeouts over seven shutout innings. He recorded all six outs via strikeouts through the fifth and sixth innings.
Even without the mid-90s fastball featured by his counterpart, Poche’ was simply dominant. He allowed four hits and three walks against the highest-scoring offense in the SEC. He worked seamlessly off his 87-90 mph heater with control of both his curveball and changeup.
“Our strength and conditioning people had me feeling great,” Poche’ said. “I just went out there and tried to put up as many zeros as I can. Pitching becomes a little easier when the guys go out there and put up a 13 spot.”
The junior left-hander walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the moderately-populated crowd at the Box after inducing a soft grounder to Deichmann to end the seventh inning.
“That was the best I’ve ever seen him,” Robertson said. “No doubt. I felt like every pitch he threw, they weren’t going to hit him. From the first inning I had a lot of confidence in him.”
LSU got on the board early thanks to two defensive errors and wildness on the part of Sheffield. The Tigers cobbled together unearned runs in both the first and second inning on the strength of just a single infield single between the two frames.
Sheffield (L, 4-2) hit a batter and issued a walk to begin the third inning. The flood gates opened from there following run-scoring knocks from Deichmann (3-for-4), Robertson (2-for-3) and Jordan (3-for-5) — the trio drove in two runs each on the night.
Cole Freeman lined a triple down the left-field line that scored Mike Papierski from first. Antoine Duplantis (2-for-2), who got hit by to begin the inning, capped the barrage with an RBI single into center field.
Duplantis scored his third run of the night in the sixth inning, coming in to score on Deichmann’s RBI single. The three-hit game was the first of Deichmann’s collegiate career.
“It was a good game for our offense,” Deichmann said. “It was a great atmosphere out here tonight and we were able to put it together.”
The wheels completely came off for the Commodores in an eighth-inning play that summed up the night for Tim Corbin’s club. With two on and one out, pinch hitter Bryce Jordan sent a sharp grounder to third.
It careened off the third baseman’s glove and went into the Vanderbilt bullpen, where it stayed as the fourth Commodore error of the game turned into a de facto three-run, inside-the-park home run.
Vanderbilt broke up the shutout by scoring four runs against reliever Russell Reynolds in the ninth inning, which forced Mainieri to warm up and bring in Doug Noman for the final out. Still, he didn’t feel the holdup diminished the head of steam his team has built on its four-game winning streak.
“I don’t think so,” Mainieri said. “Momentum for tomorrow is going to be Alex Lange for us. Alex goes out there and pitches the way he can, we’re going to be in good shape.
We were up 13 runs. They had a few seeing-eye hits, had one error. Gave them a little bit of life. It’s probably good for we didn’t beat them 13-0. Keeps us on our toes quite frankly.
LSU will go for the series victory Friday night with Alex Lange on the mound. Vanderbilt will counter with sophomore right-hander Will Harris. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m.
– Cody Ducote pinch hit for Jordan Romero in the eighth and picked up the first hit of his LSU career on a line drive single into left field.