No. 1 LSU needed to beat Sam Houston State by at least 11 runs to win the Karbach Round Rock Classic on Sunday.
And even though the game itself was over early on when LSU led 12-0 after 3.5 innings, high drama persisted until the final pitch when the Tigers’ tournament championship was securely in the bag.
Brayden Jobert’s two two-run home runs, a triple and single powered LSU’s 23-hit attack. Jared Jones’ homer and double, Dylan Crews’ 5-for-6 day complete with three doubles, helped the Tigers win the championship, beating the BearKats, 16-4.
LSU’s 23 hits were the most by the Tigers away from Alex Box Stadium since May 2009 when it had 23 hits in a win over Mississippi State at Starkville.
LSU entered the top of the ninth on Sunday leading by 11 runs, 15-4, but were still needing some insurance.
The situation was this: LSU (6-1), Sam Houston State and Iowa, which handed the Tigers their first loss of the season, 12-4, on Saturday, all finished the Round Rock Classic with 2-1 records and a run differential would decide the championship.
Tre’ Morgan’s sacrifice ground out in the ninth scored Jobert from third to give LSU the insurance it needed, putting the Tigers up by 12 heading into the final half frame.
In the bottom of the ninth, reliever Blake Money punched out Sam Houston State, holding the BearKats scoreless in the frame and LSU took home the championship belt.
Crews was named the Most Valuable Player of the Round Rock Classic, and he was joined on the all-tournament team by LSU teammates Jobert and pitcher Paul Skenes.
“Dylan Crews is the best player I’ve ever coached, and I had 14 former players play in the Major Leagues last year,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “That tells you how good he is. The talent is easy to see, the way the ball comes off the bat, the plays he makes in center field. What I’m most proud of is the way he continues to develop and be in control of himself when everyone in the park knows he’s the best player out there.”
Johnson praised LSU’s overall team effort, calling it the Tigers best game thus far this season.
“Tonight was our best game of the year,” Johnson said. “We had a goal of playing our best game so far, and we accomplished that. I’m thankful that our guys have been very coachable, and I’m excited for the future of this team.”
Four relievers entered Sunday’s game for LSU including Garrett Edwards, who was awarded his first victory of the season. He finished the night tossing 3.1 innings while giving up one run on four hits. The trio of Bryce Collins, Griffin Herring, and Money threw a combined 3.2 innings and held the SHSU offense to three runs on one hit.
“Sam Houston in its first two games this weekend did an unbelievable job of hitting mistakes,” Johnson said, “our plan to not allow their lineup to see any of our pitchers more than one time through the lineup. That was the plan going in; we weren’t going to let them see anyone twice, and it lined up well for us.”
Freshman Chase Shores got his second start of the season, firing a solid two innings and giving up no runs on three hits.
LSU opened the scoring in the first by blitzing the SHSU starter Logan Hewitt (1-1) with a two-run home run from Jobert. Crews gave Jobert the RBI opportunity with a single through the left side for a 2-0 lead after one inning.
Hewitt worked two innings and was charged with eight runs on nine hits.
The Tigers added eight runs over the next two innings, which included a five-run second.
LSU first baseman Jared Jones got it started with a double down the left-field line. Shortstop Jordan Thompson drove in Jones with an RBI-single. With Thompson and second baseman Gavin Dugas occupying a base, Crews smoked a double down the left-field line scoring both Thompson and Dugas.
LSU’s Jobert punctuated the inning with another two-run dinger to right field, scoring Crews and pushing the margin to 7-0.
Jones began the third inning with the Tigers’ third home run of the game a 8-0 lead. After two singles and a passed ball, Crews came up to bat and popped one up on the infield. The first baseman misplayed the ball, allowing two runs to score and increased the Tigers’ lead to 10-0 after three.
In the top of the fourth, left fielder Morgan singled and Jones walked with Thompson heading to the plate. He poked a single through the right side and SHSU right fielder Clayton Chadwick misplayed it, allowing Morgan and Jones to score easily. Thompson wound up at third in 12-0 game after four.
The Bearkats responded in the bottom half of the fourth with four straight free passes and a two-RBI single, narrowing the gap to 12-3.
LSU made it a 10-run game again in the top of the fifth after Crews smoked a double into the left-center field gap and Jobert’s third hit of the day drove in Crews for a 13-3 after five innings.
The Tigers added three more runs down the stretch, while the Bearkats added one to account for the final margin.