Jared Jones hits a late homer to give LSU baseball a comeback win over Northwestern State

LSU baseball came from behind to win its last non- conference game of the season. PHOTO BY: Michael Bacigalupi

LSU baseball looked like it was going to end its non-conference play with a stinker for about seven and a half innings.

The Tigers trailed Northwestern State with two outs gone in the bottom of the eighth, but Jared Jones came to the rescue with his 21st homer of the year to give LSU a comeback 6-5 win.

The Tigers were out hit 10 to eight and trailed for much of the game, but they found what they needed to illustrate a late comeback and finish with a 23-3 non-conference record on the year. Northwestern fell to 19-29 on the season.

“I’m so proud of our team right now,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “We’ve been playing playoff baseball for a while, and just the response to all of this is phenomenal. We had an emotionally draining series last weekend, we’re right in the middle of final exams, and we’re going on the road tomorrow.”

LSU (32-18, 9-15 SEC) got some valuable contributions from its younger players on the night. Sophomore Brady Neal had a two-RBI homer, freshman Ashton Larson had a pair of hits and a walk and freshman Steven Milam had a double and two walks to go along with a nice defensive play in the eighth inning.

LSU reliever Gavin Guidry was crucial in illustrating the comeback. He came in the game in the sixth inning and pitched four shutout innings to help the Tigers dig out of a 5-3 hole. He finished the game allowing just one hit and no walks or runs in four innings pitched with seven strikeouts.

“I think the pitching staff is trending in a way positive direction,” Johnson said.

LSU scored the first runs of the game in the bottom of the second thanks to Neal’s two-run blast. Larson got on base with a single before Neal homered to right center field with two outs gone.

LSU put two runners on base after that thanks to a Paxton Kling single and Milam walk, but Tommy White popped up to end the frame.

Northwestern would reply in the fourth inning. Kade Anderson had kept the Demons off the board through the first three innings, but he had already given up three hits and three walks coming into the fourth.

Colin Rains started the inning with a single before Hayden Knotts hit an RBI double and Reese Lipoma hit an RBI single to tie the game up at two runs each. That ended Anderson’s night and he was replaced by Fidel Ulloa.

Ulloa advanced Lipoma on a wild pitch and a sac fly brought him home to give the Demons a 3-2 lead. Ulloa forced a pop out to end the inning, but the Demons would give the Tigers trouble again in the next inning.

Two singles and a passed ball put runners on second and third with one out gone. Rains hit a two-RBI single to score the runners and give the Northwestern a 5-2 lead. Ulloa got a pair of strikeouts to end the inning afterwards.

“I could tell there was some mental fatigue, and I told the guys in the fifth inning that we have to win this game,” Johnson said. “I don’t normally do that, because we’re usually about the play and the process. But, we had to get past the disappointment and frustration of the first few innings, and focus on winning the game. And, we did on all sides of the ball.”

LSU pulled on back in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a Michael Braswell III RBI single that scored Josh Pearson and made it a 5-3 game. It looked like LSU would add a run in the sixth when Jones hit a ball to the corner of the field, but a diving catch from left fielder Balin Valentine saved the run.

The Tigers wouldn’t cut into the lead again until the seventh inning when Ashton Larson singled to center field and to cut the deficit to one. Larson’s single was just the sixth hit of the game for LSU.

Milam doubled down the right field line to hit a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jones came up to bat with two outs gone and Milam still on base and blasted a homer over left center field to score two and give LSU the lead for the first time since the beginning of the fourth inning.

“Tonight was one of those nights for a lot of guys and myself included,” Jones said. “Until that last at bat, I hadn’t had a hit.”

Guidry sent the Demons three up, three down in the top of the ninth to end the game and secure LSU a win in its final non-conference game of the regular season.

“We knew that game was a game that had to be won,” Guidry said. “The RPI would have completely plummeted if we would have dropped that game.”

LSU baseball has a road series with Alabama baseball up next.

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Will Nickel

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