By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
The Rally Possum will live on forever as yet another strange little piece of LSU baseball lore.
The Tigers, seemingly inspired by the a loose possum that briefly put the game on hold in the seventh inning, scored four runs in an error-fueled ninth-inning comeback to force extras as chants of “Rally — Possum” rained down from the few feverish fans who stuck around after LSU dug itself a 9-1 hole.
Jake Fraley scampered home with the game-winning run one inning later on an errant back pick — the fourth and final Arkansas error of the night — after Kramer Robertson’s infield single to lift LSU to wild, dramatic, come-from-behind 10-9 victory over Arkansas at Alex Box Stadium on Saturday night.
“It’s almost an indescribable game,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “As crazy as last night was, I didn’t think anything could top that one, this one did.”
“That was about as insane a game as you’ll ever see,” Robertson mumbled through his grotesque, bloody lip, the product of taking a relay throw off his face way back in the third inning. “I’ve never seen anything like that, a possum on the baseball field.”
The improbable ninth-inning rally began with consecutive errors committed by Arkansas third baseman Cody Scroggins. Robertson singled to load the bases, and after a strikeout — LSU has 15 of those, flying past its previous season-high of nine — Chris Reid’s RBI single cut the deficit to three.
Brennan Breaux, who was the third left fielder in the game for LSU after Beau Jordan and Brody Wofford were benched earlier, then picked up his third hit of the night with a ringing two-run double to the left-center field gap in to bring LSU within a run.
“I was just seeing the ball well,” said Breaux, who entered the game with only one career hit and left with four. “Trusting my preparation that I’ve had all week.”
Breaux’s double also moved the tying run to third, where it scored on a sacrifice fly from Greg Deichmann two batters later. The rally essentially erased a frustrating evening that saw LSU leave 19 men on base and commit three errors.
“We looked like the Bad News Bears for a little while there,” Robertson said. “That was about as ugly as it gets. A lot of teams would lay down after that. But we never stopped fighting.”
The LSU bullpen as a whole allowed just one earned run in 8.2 innings of relief after Jared Poche’ failed to make it past the second inning. It’s the third consecutive rocky outing for Poche’, who has now been charged with 14 earned runs in 11.1 innings of work during that span. That equates to an ERA of 11.11.
Russell Reynolds came on and worked a scoreless tenth — the trio of Austin Bain, Riley Smith and Reynolds tossed five scoreless innings to keep LSU hanging around late. Four unearned runs came home against Doug Norman courtesy of two errors in the fifth.
“Great comeback,” Mainieri said. “I though Austin Bain and Riley Smith were the key to the game. They came us and gave us a chance to get back in the game.”
Fraley doubled to the gap in left-center field with one out in the tenth, and he took a wide turn at third on what turned out to be an infield single for Robertson.
When the throw behind him from first base got away, third base coach Nolan Cain implored Fraley — it almost looked like he shoved him toward the plate — to dash home.
“I didn’t even know if he threw it or not,” Fraley said. “Nolan started patting me on the back, and then I realized. After he flipped over me and take off for the ball, I started running.”
Meanwhile, Robertson, fresh off an ice bath courtesy of Alex Lange, would spend the balance of his night undergoing dental surgery.
Still in discernible pain, he said he needed to get the bottom of his tongue stitched (he bit through it when the ball hit him) before getting his teeth “popped back into place,” as he had to do after taking a grounder off his face due to a wicked hop the week before the season opener.
“I’m going to be looking ugly for a little while, which is unfortunate,” Robertson smiled, kind of. “But hopefully my mom will still love me even though I’m ugly.”
LSU will go for the sweep Sunday at 1 p.m. Mainieri announced after Saturday’s game that right-hander Caleb Gilbert will make the start.