Landon Marceaux’s second start of LSU’s 2020 season was the best of his career.
The sophomore right-hander’s masterful performance Saturday afternoon guided LSU to a 6-3 win over Eastern Kentucky in Alex Box Stadium.
He had the longest outing of his career, throwing eight scoreless innings with 61 strikes on 80 pitches in a game in which he had a strict 90-pitch limit. He allowed four hits and issued no walks while striking out six.
“That’s Landon Marceaux out there,” Marceaux said. “I’m not a huge strikeout guy, I’ll get a punch out when I need it, but it’s forcing contact on the ground and getting outs however you can. . .I threw strikes tonight and forced contact. That was the biggest thing for me.”
During the off-season, Marceaux dropped 15 pounds to get in what he calls the best shape of his life and converted his curveball into a slider.
“What a tremendous performance,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said of Marceaux. “He was an animal out there. I was telling (LSU hitting coach) Eddie Smith during the game that he’s such a different pitcher because he’s developed such an outstanding breaking ball that he was able to go to whenever you needed it. It was his bread and butter. He was still throwing 91 miles per hour in the eighth inning. I obviously didn’t plan on him pitching eight innings but his pitch count was so low that we could have thought about sending him out for the ninth.”
LSU (4-3) scored its first runs of the weekend on Daniel Cabrera’s first inning two-run homer to right field.
The score remained 2-0 until the Tigers’ four-run eighth inning rally with two outs.
LSU strung together two walks and single to load the bases for catcher Alex Milazzo, who drew a walk to force in a run. Cade Beloso then ripped a three-run double down the first base line giving the Tigers a 6-0 lead.
“It was good to do that in the eighth inning to get more run support,” Beloso said. “Because looking back, that would have been a tie game going into the bottom of the ninth. I’m just glad we got it done in the eighth inning there.”
Reliever Aaron George came in to pitch the ninth for the Tigers and gave up two leadoff walks and two singles to put EKU (4-1) on the board with two runs.
Devin Fontenot entered to clean up George’s mess. He gave up a third run on an RBI groundout, but that was all he would allow.
One of LSU’s unsung bright spots in the win was freshman Milazzo throwing out two runners with his golden arm.
“It’s good to have a blowtorch in your back pocket as a catcher,” Beloso said.
In the second inning, Milazzo spied Daniel Harris IV taking a huge lead off second base. Millazo threw a frozen rope behind Harris IV, and it initially appeared the the throw beat him to the bag but shortstop Collier Cranford missed the tag. After a review, Harris IV was called out.
“Once I saw him at second, I was just looking for a way to get us out of that inning,” Milazzo said. “A runner in scoring position and I was just trying to find an out. And it happened thanks to Collier, he had a great pick out there.”
Milazzo and Cranford played with each other throughout their high school career at Zachary. They’ve developed such a chemistry that Milazzo was able to subtly tip Cranford off about his pending throw.
“I can’t give my secrets away but we kind of got a little connection that goes back from four years of high school,” Milazzo said.
In the sixth inning, Milazzo caught a runner on first stealing and got the ball to second baseman Gavin Dugas at the base before the runner had even made it halfway to second. The runner retreated back to first, but Dugas made the throw to Beloso to complete the 2-4-3 relay for the out.
“Milazzo is a game changer behind the plate,” Mainieiri said. “He stops the other team’s running game, picks a guy off second base, gets a pitcher out of a jam. He’s just outstanding. He’s a real asset for our team, no doubt.”
The Tigers and Colonels play the series finale Sunday at 11 a.m. LSU will start right-hander AJ Labas (0-1, 6.23 ERA) on the mound against EKU lefty Jake Lewis (0-1, 2.25 ERA).