If there’s a coaching baseball for dummies book out there, it probably called for a bunt with the tying runs on base and nobody out in the ninth inning.
But that’s not why LSU signed Cade Beloso.
“We recruited Cade Beloso to hit home runs,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “Not to bunt. I told him to go up there and get his money’s worth.”
The freshman first baseman played the hero in his collegiate debut thanks to a laser beam of a walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning as LSU escaped with a dramatic 6-5 win over Army at Alex Box Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Beloso, still covered in celebratory shaving cream, professed to not knowing the ball had cleared the fence in right field. He was digging for a double off the wall and blacked out for a bit once he saw an umpire signal home run.
“It feels amazing,” Beloso said. “It’s like a dream come true.”
The heroics will go down as LSU’s first walk-off since Daniel Cabrera capped a six-run ninth inning with his own two-run blast against Tennessee on April 15, 2018. Much like that game, LSU stormed back from the dead with an opportunistic rally in its final at-bat.
Beloso upstaged a strong effort from fellow freshman Landon Marceaux in his highly-anticipated collegiate debut.
Marceaux held Army to one run on two hits with five strikeouts over 5.2 innings and departed with LSU still clinging to a 2-1 lead. He was critical of himself for issuing three walks.
“It was a little shaky,” said Marceaux, who is apparently quite a perfectionist. “My fastball command, couldn’t find my breaking ball. I was able to go as deep as I could with what I had.”
That advantage didn’t last long. Relievers Chase Costello and Trent Vietmeier were tagged for four runs in the seventh inning as Army first baseman Anthony Giachin clubbed a three-run double off Vietmeier.
LSU meanwhile had been suffocated by Army right-hander Daniel Burggaarf. The veteran pitcher had allowed just two unearned runs to that point and worked into the seventh inning.
The Tigers’ fate appeared sealed after an eighth-inning rally fizzled. The tying runs were aboard with nobody out and the dynamic duo of Antoine Duplantis and Daniel Cabrera due up. Duplantis banged into a double play and Cabrera popped up to end the threat.
Those two had played the heroes on Friday night with an amazing four-homer, 11-RBI performance. On Saturday that honor was left up to Beloso, the rookie from River Ridge.
“Boy did he step up or what?” Marceaux said. “What a clutch homer. We’ve got a team of resilient individuals, I’ll tell you that.”
LSU will try to clinch an undefeated opening weekend on Sunday against Air Force. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. with Jaden Hill set to make his collegiate debut on the mound.