LSU baseball holds on to its late lead this time, sets up rubber match against Alabama

LSU held on to its late lead this time to take game two over Alabama and set up a rubber match on Sunday. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

Just like in game one, LSU built a four-run lead late in the game.

But unlike in game one, the Tigers didn’t let Alabama get back into the game and held on for a 6-3 win over the Tide. The win means tomorrow’s game will decide the series and maybe LSU’s postseason chances.

“It was a really tough loss for our team last night,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said, “and I’m really proud of how they responded today. I think it showed a lot about the human beings in our dugout and in our program. It was a great game today, probably the biggest one of the season.”

The win brings LSU’s record to 33-19 overall and 10-16 in SEC play. The Tigers will need to win at least three of their last four to have a shot at the postseason. Alabama moves to 31-19 and 11-15 in conference play.

LSU had two runners on base in the first inning with no outs gone, but three straight outs kept it from claiming an early lead like it had on Friday. Instead, the Tide took the lead in the bottom of the first despite not recording a hit.

Holman walked the first batter he faced before Tommy White made a throw that Jared Jones couldn’t dig out of the dirt to put two runners on. Holman hit the next batter with a pitch to load the bases before a groundout brought a runner home. A fly out ended the inning with the score 1-0.

The Tigers replied right away in the top of the second inning. Michael Braswell III and Steven Milam started the inning with a pair of singles. Paxton Kling laid down a sac bunt to put the runners on second and third and White hit a two-RBI double to give LSU a 2-1 lead.

The next run wouldn’t come until the fourth inning. Alabama recorded its first hits of the game thanks to singles from Kade Snell and TJ McCants. A sac bunt put the runners on second and third and William Hamiter grounded into a fielder’s choice to score a run and tie the game up at 2-2.

LSU would retake the lead in the top of the sixth inning. Ashton Larson and Milam singled before Kling was walked to load the bases with one out gone. The Tide pulled their starter Zane Adams for Aidan Moza afterwards.

Jake Brown hit into what could’ve been a double play to end the inning, but he hustled to first base to beat out the throw and score a runner. Moza forced a groundout to end the inning with the score 3-2.

LSU would pull Holman in the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs gone. Holman allowed four hits and two runs in 5.2 innings pitched against his former team. He was relieved by Nate Ackenhausen who got the final out of the inning without allowing a run.

“Luke is a superstar,” Johnson said. “There’s not a more put-together pitcher and person in college baseball than him. His make-up is off the charts, and he’s going to play for a long time. A lot of that has to do with his poise and his mindset. I’m really, really proud of Luke today.”

The Tigers game themselves some breathing room with a three-run inning in the seventh.  Jared Jones started things with a single before making it to second on a wild pitch. Josh Pearson hit an RBI single to score Jones and the made his way to second on another wild pitch.

Braswell tripled to bring home Pearson before coming home himself on the third wild pitch of the inning. LSU had once again built itself a four-run lead late in the game. The Tigers led 6-2 heading into the bottom of the inning.

Ackenhausen allowed a double to start the bottom of the frame before a fly out let the runner tag up and reach third. Mac Guscette hit an RBI single to score the runner and cut away at the LSU lead. Ackenhausen forced a fly out to end the inning and limit the damage.

Gavin Guidry came in to pitch for Ackenhausen in the bottom of the eighth. He allowed a walk against the first batter he faced, but he got outs against the next six batters he faced to end the game.

LSU and Alabama will meet on Sunday at 1 p.m. in a rubber match that could determine if the Tigers will be playing in a regional this postseason. That game will be streamed on SEC Network +.

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Will Nickel

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