Tigers score in every inning but two to win fifth straight
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Beau Jordan struggled to get to his feet after fouling a Pat Cashman offering off his lower leg in the first inning of LSU’s 11-4 win over Southeastern on Wednesday night.
Paul Mainieri and trainer Cody Couture raced out to check on the Tigers’ starting left fielder, who dropped to a knee before eventually getting up and walking it off. Jordan decided to stay in the game.
“Right in my calf,” Jordan said. “Woo, it kind of hurts, but we’ll take care of it tomorrow and move on.”
Jordan battled back and deposited an RBI single into right-center field to cap a three-run first frame, part of a 2-for-4 evening that included a pair of RBI and a stolen base. It stood as the game’s big blast until Greg Deichmann unloaded a three-run blast to break the game open in the sixth inning.
The two sides waited out a two-hour, 24-minute rain delay in the top of the third inning, and the clock struck Thursday by the time LSU put the finishing touches on extending its winning to a modest five games in a late-night affair at Alex Box Stadium.
“I was really proud of them tonight,” Mainieri said. “You don’t do things like that if the guys aren’t focused and bearing down and really into the ball game. We could have just gone through the motions and we could have ended up losing this ball game. Instead we played hard to the end. I was really proud of that.”
Cole Freeman, who matched a career-high with three hits, added: “We’re growing as a team and staying focused from the first inning through the last one.”
LSU opened up the scoring on Jordan Romero’s RBI single in the first. Kramer Robertson brought home a second run with a fielder’s choice and Jordan followed with his single. Freeman laced a triple down the left field line and scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 4-0 in the second.
Starter Doug Norman retired all six men he faced in order through two clean innings, but Riley Smith took over in the third and trouble followed. Smith issued a bases-loaded walk to Jameson Fisher and Mainieri came with the hook as he fell behind in the count 3-1 to cleanup man Carson Crites.
The rain — and the tarp — were out before Collin Strall could finish his warm-up tosses.
“It takes a little bit more,” Freeman said of the focus required to wait out a rain delay. “Especially a two-and-a-half hour break where everybody is in there playing ping pong and stuff. It’s showing maturity.”
Strall returned after the delay and issued ball four to bring home another run — the fourth walk charged to Smith in the inning. Jesse Stallings came on and walked home a third run before stranding the bases loaded to keep the one-run lead intact.
LSU came back with three runs over the next two innings to re-extend the lead back to four runs. Beau Jordan plated a man with a groundout in the third, and twin brother Bryce followed with a two-out RBI single.
Freeman singled and scored his second run in the fourth, coming home on a sacrifice fly from Romero, but the Lions promptly got that run back courtesy of a long solo home run from Crites off Stallings in the fifth.
“That was a momentum-shifting time right there,” Mainieri said. “And I thought the way we responded to them scoring the three runs, to come back the next inning was critical.”
LSU squandered a chance to tack on insurance runs in the fifth, and Deichmann made sure it wouldn’t happen again in the sixth. Up with two men in scoring position and one out, he tomahawked a 2-1 fastball into the vacant right-field grandstands. The ball left at bat at 103 mph, per TrackMan.
Deichmann, who was 0-for-2 on the night up to that point, made an adjustment after struggling to get around on the ball his first couple at-bats.
“Just starting everything a little earlier,” Deichmann said. “I think I was looking at the ball a little much, a little too long. Just making up my mind and going with it a little quicker.”
“That was huge,” Mainieri added. “Gave us some space.”
Trailing 10-4, the Lions nearly mounted a comeback in the seventh against Parker Bugg. Two walks and a Chris Reid error — LSU’s first since the Grambling game a week ago — loaded the bases with one out, but a grounder to second ended the inning when the Chase Utley rule was called for a takeout slide on Robertson.
Mike Papierski, sans flow — he apparently shaved his head sometime Wednesday — capped the scoring with a solo home run of his own just after the clock struck midnight to begin the eighth. He entered the game as a defensive replacement for Romero.
“The hair probably had a lot to do with him hitting a home run,” Mainieri laughed.
LSU will be back in action Friday night to begin a three-game SEC West showdown with Mississippi State, which departed for Baton Rouge after a late-night win of its own. It took the Bulldogs 14 innings to down UL-Monroe 1-0 in Biloxi.