By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
All Kramer Robertson needed to get off the schneid was a little bit of Yeezy in his life.
Hitting just .125 through (2-for-16) the young season’s first four games and hoping to reverse his mojo, the Tigers second baseman switched his walk-up song to Kanye West’s Blood on the Leavesahead of the series opener with Sacramento State.
“I love Kanye,” Robertson smiled. “I was driving to pick up a friend at the airport and I heard that song. I wasn’t really feeling my walk-out opening weekend, and I didn’t have the results at the plate that I wanted, so why not change it up?
“Looks like it worked out a little bit.”
Robertson (2-for-4, 2 RBI) walked and scored to lead off the game and laced an RBI double to left in the second to build the Tigers an early lead. He later turned in diving web gems on a pop-up down the right field line in the fifth and a grounder up the middle in the sixth to help Jared Poche’ preserve it.
The veteran lefty did the rest, firing six innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts to earn his first victory of the season. Poche’ (1-0) and three relievers tossed a combined three-hitter to deal LSU (4-1) past Sacramento State (3-2), 6-0, on a chilly Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.
“I told Alan (Dunn) it was a lot more fun to shut a team out than give up 12 runs and lose,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “Poche’ obviously gave us a good start and I thought all three guys that came in threw the ball exceptionally well.”
Poche’ said he didn’t have a feel for any of his pitches besides his curveball. He worked with an elevated pitch count early — a byproduct of the eight punch outs — but finished strong, retiring seven of the final eight batters he faced.
After the game the junior dedicated the performance to his mother, Tessa, who braved the cold on her birthday to watch her son earn the 19th victory of his collegiate career.
“Hopefully this W is good enough,” Poche’ joked, asked what he got her. “I wished her a happy birthday this morning. 29 never looked so good.”
On a night when the Tigers stranded nine runners on base and six in scoring position, LSU eventually extended the lead with help from some sloppy defense on the part of the Hornets.
Coincidentally, the LSU defense turned in it’s first error-free effort of the season to help Poche’ and Co. keep the scoreboard unblemished.
“I thought it was a well-played game,” Mainieri said. “A crisp game by us defensively.”
“That’s what we expect, for guys to make plays behind us,” Poche’ said. “That’s what it’s going to take to win ball games for us.”
Catcher Jordan Romero led off the sixth inning and designated hitter Bryce Adams followed with reaching on an error. After a successful sacrifice bunt by Antoine Duplantis, third baseman O’Neal Lochridge (2-for-3, 2B) plated pinch runner Brennan Breuax with a sacrifice fly to left. Greg Deichmann, who pinch ran for Adams, scored one batter later on an error by shortstop Trent Goodrich.
Jake Fraley, who missed a pair of home runs foul by a grand total of about eight feet, drew a leadoff walk to begin the seventh. He promptly stole second base and scored on an RBI single up the middle by Beau Jordan (2-for-4, 2 RBI).
Robertson capped the scoring one inning later with an RBI single up the middle to score Lochridge, who legged out a double with one out.
“I told him that if you want to be the leadoff hitter, you have to have more than one good at-bat a game for us,” Mainieri said. “That’s not enough. I think he took that to heart.”
– With Sacramento State having used the only left-handed pitcher on their roster, Mainieri says he plans to stack lefties in the lineup behind Alex Lange tomorrow. Brennan Breaux (likely left field) and Brody Wofford (likely DH) will make their first career starts, per Mainieri.
Saturday (2 p.m.)
LSU – So. RHP Alex Lange (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6.2 IP, 3 BB, 9 SO)
SAC – Sr. RHP Grant Kukuk (0-0, 1.93 ERA, 4.2 IP, 0 BB, 2 SO)
Sunday (1 p.m.)
LSU – Sr. LHP John Valek III (1-0, 3.18 ERA, 5.2 IP, 0 BB, 7 SO)
SAC – Jr. RHP Max Karnos (0-0, 15.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 3 BB, 2 SO)