Poche, Papierski do heavy lifting to earn Tigers Friday off
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
After two dramatic comebacks in as many days, Jared Poche’ set out to give the now-famous rally possum an evening off.
The fruits of his labor earned LSU a well-deserved Friday off in Hoover.
Poche’ stymied top-seeded Mississippi State over 6.2 innings and catcher Mike Papierski drove in three runs — his first RBI since April 24 — to lead LSU to a 6-2 victory and earn a bye into Saturday’s SEC Tournament semifinals.
Like Alex Lange before him, Poche’ appeared to be on the ropes early. He walked the bases loaded in the first inning but retired Reid Humphreys on a chopper to third base to narrowly wiggle out of the jam.
Poche’ induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the second, and he settled into a rhythm from there. The southpaw set down the side in order in three of his next four innings, part of a larger stretch of retiring 14 of 15 batters overall.
Meanwhile, after looking overmatched the first pass through the order, that pesky LSU lineup made life difficult for Dakota Hudson.
Jake Fraley’s RBI single opened up the scoring in the third, and two defensive misplays by the Bulldogs brought home a pair of unearned runs in the fourth. Greg Deichmann tacked on a fourth run with a bases-loaded RBI single in the fifth.
Mississippi State broke through against Poche’ in the seventh thanks to miscommunication between Antoine Duplantis and Cole Freeman that allowed a mile-high popup to fall in shallow right field.
The error began a two run rally (one earned) that chased Poche’, but Parker Bugg entered and fanned Gavin Collins on a slider to strand runners on the corners in a two-run game.
That’s when the Bulldogs returned the favor. Bryce Jordan’s popup found grass in shallow right field amid two defenders, and after a head’s up piece of base running by him and brother Beau, Papierski came through with a two-out, two-run single to left to re-extend the lead.
— James Moran (@SmartestMoran) May 27, 2016
Bugg finished the game himself to earn a seven-out save in preserving the victory. LSU now awaits the winner of Friday’s Florida/Mississippi State elimination game for what’ll be a single-elimination semifinal game Saturday.