Junior third baseman Jack Merrifield ripped a single into center field following two walks to lift LSU to an 8-7 victory over Bethune-Cookman Friday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
Following four innings of scoreless innings from LSU’s starter Blake Money, Bethune-Cookman collected six runs in the top of the fifth to take a momentary lead. The Tigers tied the game in the bottom half with four runs, which consisted of a Berry bomb, a Jordan Thompson RBI walk and a Josh Pearson hit-by-pitch.
“After their big inning, I told our team we can win this game as long as we don’t try to do too much,” LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson said. “Our players stayed within themselves and stayed with the plan, and we had some very good at-bats that got us back into the game.”
The score was tied at six headed into the bottom of the sixth before centerfielder Dylan Crews hit his third home run of the season, and LSU led 7-6. BCU regained the lead after right fielder Franki Febles collected a single, advanced to second on a sac bunt and was driven in on a single from left fielder Matthew Garcia.
In the bottom of the seventh, designated hitter Brayden Jobert led off the inning with a walk. With one out, Thompson also drew a walk, which brought Merrifield to plate. He would drive in the deciding run giving the Tigers an 8-7 win.
Right-hander Devin Fontenot picked up his first win on the season after tossing 2.1 innings and giving no runs on no hits while picking up three strikeouts. BCU reliever Knickolas Billings was saddled with the loss.
“When I was hired here, one of the first things I did to was make sure Devin was returning to our team for another year,” Johnson said. “The back end of the bullpen is such an important piece, and when you win close games like this, it does a lot for the confidence of your team. Devin pitched with great tempo today, threw a ton of strikes, and that’s a big lift for our team.”
LSU opened the scoring in the first inning by scratching two runs across after second baseman Cade Doughty launched a two-run dinger to left field. Junior right fielder Jacob Berry reached base in the previous at-bat with a single into center, and LSU led 2-0 after one.
The Tigers return to action Saturday at 2:00 p.m. for the second game of the series against BCU. The game can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates and can be streamed on SEC Network+.