By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Paralyzed Southern football player Devon Gales provided the moment on the night when he threw out the ceremonial pitch before Tuesday’s LSU-Southern baseball game.
The Tigers pounced ahead with a four-run first inning not soon after.
Beau Jordan, Mike Papierski and Cole Freeman drove in two runs each and LSU (19-9) pushed its modest winning streak to three games by knocking off Southern (8-18) 11-1 in front of a sparse crowd at Alex Box Stadium.
“Honestly, I felt like it was a trap game,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I didn’t think it was our best game of the year by a large margin, but we did enough. There was some really positive things.”
The top of the new-look batting order got LSU on the board in a hurry on a night where Southern issued six walks, hit six batters and committed four errors.
Antoine Duplantis led off the game with a hard single up the middle and scored two batters later on Greg Deichmann’s single through the right side. Three batters later, Jordan laced an RBI single to right-center to double the advantage.
Jordan then stole second, and Kramer Robertson came around to score when catcher Jose DeLa Torre’s throw sailed high into center field — his second throwing error of the inning. Freeman rounded out the first-inning scoring with his first of two bases loaded walks to force home Jordan.
“It was huge (to get off to a good start) because we knew last year this team almost beat us,” Robertson said. “We wanted to come out here, get a lead early and build on that. Getting a four-run lead loosened us up for the rest of the game.”
Jaguar starter Harold Myles settled in a bit from there, but LSU would score three times on just two hits in the fifth. Jordan brought home Jordan Romero with a fielder’s choice, Freeman drew another bases loaded walk and Duplantis got hit with a pitch to account for the scoring.
After a tough weekend at Auburn, Papierski removed all doubt from the result with a two-out, two-run single to left in the sixth. He also back picked a runner at first and gunned down another trying to steal second.
“This kid is a really good ball player that I’ve been high on for a long time,” Mainieri said. “I’m not jumping off the bandwagon on him, I can promise you.”
It was an effective night on the mound for Jack Wholestaff. Jesse Stallings got LSU off to the start Mainieri hoped for, pumping a 93-94 mph fastball and striking out two of the three batters he faced on slides. He earned his first win of the season.
Tiger pitching wouldn’t work another clean frame for the rest of the night, but aside from the Jags squeaking across a run against Cole McKay in the sixth, the Southern offense stayed quiet. Eight LSU arms scattered nine hits over the course of the game by stranding 10 men on base.
LSU now turns its attention to a weekend series with Vanderbilt slated to begin on Thursday night at Alex Box Stadium.
– Freshman third baseman O’Neal Lochridge (back) won’t play this weekend, Mainieri said. He was put back on anti-inflammatory meds after seeing the doctor yesterday to get some soreness checked out. “It’s better, but it’s just not ready yet.”
– Riley Smith threw a bullpen today and will throw another one this weekend, Mainieri said. If that goes well, he may be ready to pitch in a game next week.
– Cody Ducote made his LSU debut after missing the season’s first 27 games with a hand injury. He entered the game in the seventh inning as a defensive sub and flew out to center field in his lone plate appearance.
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