LSU edges Nicholls 5-4, set to play Southern tonight

LSU's Zach Arnold slides across the plate for the winning run in the ninth inning of the Tigers' 5-4 win over Nicholls Wednesday afternoon in Alex Box Stadium.

On a breezy Wednesday afternoon in Alex Box Stadium, the LSU-Nicholls rematch of the Tigers’ easy-peasy 14-0 Saturday night win was a challenge from start to finish.

Six of LSU’s nine hits were for extra bases, but it was freshman first baseman Tre Morgan’s ninth-inning sacrifice fly that scored Zach Arnold with the game-deciding walk-off run in a 5-4 victory.

The eighth-ranked Tigers (7-1) had to overcome a 2-0 deficit, then had one-run leads erased by Nicholls in the top of the eighth and ninth innings. LSU loaded the bases on Colonels’ reliever Joe Taylor in the ninth and got across the winning run.

Nicholls (2-5) loaded the buses and headed home to Thibodaux while LSU changed uniforms and prepared for a 6:30 doubleheader nightcap against Southern.

Nicholls made it clear in its second game in five days against the Tigers there wouldn’t be a repeat of Saturday’s loss in which the Colonels produced just two hits and had seven pitchers allow 13 hits including four homers, three doubles and a triple.

This time around, LSU freshman starting pitcher Javen Coleman didn’t make it through two innings.

In the Nicholls second, Coleman issued two one-out walks, then got a fly out before Nicholls shortstop Parker Coddou slapped a first-pitch, two-run double to right field for the game’s first lead.

Tigers’ freshman reliever Blake Money entered, got the final out of the inning and kept the Colonels off the scoreboard the next four innings while LSU bats finally warmed.

LSU didn’t score a run and had just two hits in the first three innings off starter Trever Kilcrease and reliever Devin Desandro.

But the Tigers teed off on Tyler Theriot, who started the fourth inning and lasted just 12 pitches and three batters.

LSU center fielder Brody Drost parked Theriot’s first pitch into the right field stands. Tigers’ designated hitter Cade Beloso deposited a 2-2 pitch into left centerfield for a double and teammate Gavin Dugas followed by banging Theriot’s second pitch for an RBI double to tie the game 2-2.

David Vial Jr., Nicholls third reliever, retired three straight Tigers to escape the inning. But with one out in the LSU fifth, he grooved a first pitch that Tigers’ left fielder Dylan Crews tattooed for a 418-foot homer to left center and a 3-2 LSU lead.

Nicholls pulled into a 3-3 tie in the eighth. Freshman Garrett Edwards, the Tigers’ third reliever, walked off leadoff hitter Wes Toups who advanced to second on a groundout and then scored on designated hitter Basiel Williams’ single.

Edwards induced Nicholls right fielder Dane Simon into an inning-ending double play.

LSU grabbed back the lead in its half of the eighth. Morgan set the table with a leadoff double and advanced to third on an errant Nicholls relay throw. He then scored freshman Brady Drost’s sacrifice fly to the left field warning track.

LSU’s Devin Fontenot, the Tigers’ ace closer, was inserted in the ninth to close the game. After Nicholls center fielder Xane Washington with a single, Fontenot retired two batters before Coddou’s RBI single tied the game at 4-4.

It took a diving stab by Morgan fielding Nicholls third baseman Alex Galy’s sharply hit grounder and scrambling to the first base bag for the rally-killing out.

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Ron Higgins

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