LSU snapped its three-game losing streak behind a mixture of power hitting and strong relief pitching.
Daniel Cabrera, Antoine Duplantis and Brock Mathis all homered and six relievers divvied up 7.2 innings of two-hit ball as LSU defeated Holy Cross 9-2 on a chilly Wednesday night at Alex Box Stadium.
“It was good to get back in the win column tonight,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “For the most part, everybody did well.”
The night wasn’t as comfortable as the final score may indicate. LSU was holding on for dear life in a 3-2 game in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to solo shots from Duplantis and Cabrera.
It appeared there would be no insurance runs coming after a running got thrown out at home plate with relative ease. Instead LSU (9-3) scored four runs with two outs to finally pull away from the pesky Crusaders.
Cabrera struck the big blow, a two-out, two-run single in center field. Cade Beloso followed with an RBI single and Cabrera scored on a pass ball to cap the rally.
“Once they brought in that lefty, I was just trying to use the middle of the field or go oppo,” Cabrera said. “I wasn’t trying to yank off of something. Luckily I got something good to hit.”
However, there’s again cause for concern regarding Ma’Khail Hilliard, who made his first start of the season and did not last long.
Hilliard gave up a solo home run in the first inning and was pulled after issuing back-to-back walks in the second. The plan going in was for him to pitch two innings.
“The concerning thing is two walks,” Mainieri said. “I told him yesterday, ‘If you don’t throw strikes, you’re not going to pitch.’ That’s the reason we put a new guy in.”
LSU would have found itself in a significant early hole were it not for strong relief from Trent Vietmeier. Vietmeier stranded two runners in scoring position after taking over for Hilliard and notched a career-high four strikeouts in 1.2 innings of spotless relief.
Aaron George came on and picked up right where Vietmeier left off. He worked a clean fourth inning with two strikeouts and got two outs in the fifth before departing.
Matt Beck came on with a runner on second and struck out Ben Malgeri — who homered earlier — to end the threat. Beck allowed two baserunners in the sixth but struck out the side to escape unscathed.
Devin Fontenot issued two walks with a six-run lead, much to the chagrin of his coaches, but he righted himself and pitched out of the jam. Clay Moffitt got two outs in the eighth and Todd Peterson picked up the final three.
“I thought overall they did well,” Mainieri said of his relief corps.
LSU will begin its final weekend series of non-conference play against Cal on Friday night. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at the Box.