By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Re-focused by an heated postgame meeting after Tuesday night’s ‘total breakdown,’ it took LSU all of three batters to eclipse both the previous night’s run total and hit output in Wednesday evening’s 14-11 win over visiting Grambling State.
The Tigers bounced back from getting two-hit in a shutout loss to McNeese State by scoring four runs on five hits in the first inning.
That quick start set the tone on a night when LSU (21-11) pounded out 17 hits to re-establish momentum —although one could argue a five-car pileup of an eighth and ninth frames soured the mood — heading into this weekend’s Southeastern Conference road trip to Missouri.
“It was awesome to be able to flush a game like yesterday and be able to come out here and turn it around,” Jake Fraley said. “Having a game like that where one-through-nine is swinging it well and some guys off the bench get hits too. Hopefully we keep it going into the weekend.”
Every LSU starter sans Kramer Robertson recorded a hit before Paul Mainieri started emptying the bench in the fifth inning. Grambling (15-17), meanwhile, committed six errors — the miscues amounted to three unearned runs that proved the difference on the scoreboard.
The Tigers committed four errors of their own, making the total a nice round 10 in a game that dragged on for nearly three-and-a-half hours and helt even longer.
“It was a good game,” Mainieri said. “We got to play a lot of players and get the bad taste out of our mouth from last night and get ready for a big SEC series this weekend.”
Freshman right fielder Antoine Duplantis (3-for-4) extended his hitting streak to eight games with successive singles in his first three at-bats, the third of which drove in a run. He came around to score all three times and turned in a slick diving grab near the LSU bullpen in four territory.
Fraley (2-for-2) tag-teamed with Duplantis to wreak havoc from the top two spots in the lineup. Fraley drove in a season-high three runs on two singles and a sacrifice fly in his first three plate appearances to help LSU race out to such a decisive lead.
Bryce Jordan pounded out a career-high three hits. Jordan Romero gave Mike Papierski a day off behind the plate. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and gunned down a would-be base stealer on the base paths.
LSU used seven pitcher to divide up the nine innings. The most effective of which was far and away Austin Bain, who struck out six of the seven batters he faced to earn his third victory of the season in relief.
“I thought that was the highlight of the night,” Mainieri said.
Freshman Trey Dawson found his name in the lineup for the fourth time this season, his first start since March 4.The rookie reserve picked up that elusive first collegiate hit, an RBI single to left field with two outs in the fourth to extend the LSU lead at the time to 12-2.
He picked up his second career hit in his next at-bat and finished the contest 2-for-5. He capped the evening with a spinning play at shortstop in the ninth.
“It’s a big relief,” Dawson said. “You work hard every day and it’s frustrating, but then you’ve just got to be aggressive at the plate. I wasn’t aggressive early in the year but I was tonight.”
Catcher Trent Forshag became the final LSU position player to record his first hit with a pinch hit RBI single in the seventh.
Grambling made the result appear closer than it was by scoring seven times over the final three innings against Collin Strall and Brennan Breaux, who moved from the outfield to the mound. It forced Mainieri to bring in Hunter Newman to record the final two outs.
“I think it was actually good for Hunter Newman to come in and get those last two outs with the game on the line and end the game,” Mainieri said. “He did a great job.”
LSU will be back in action Friday night for the first of three in Columbia.
NEWS AND NOTES
– Mainieri liked the way Breaux threw out of the bullpen and will continue to experiment with him as a reliever. “I thought he threw the ball good.”
– LSU rotation for this weekend:
Friday: Jared Poche’
Saturday: Alex Lange
Sunday: John Valek III