That Dylan Crews, Hayden Travinski and Cade Beloso provided the offense for No. 1-seeded LSU wasn’t really a surprise when the No. 5 overall seeded Tigers methodically beat Tulane, 7-2, on Friday in the Baton Rouge Regional at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
What was surprising was that LSU ended up needing 12 strikeouts from ace Paul Skenes to put away the Green Wave, who still have not yet won 20 games this season.
Most No. 1 seeds in NCAA Regional play usually do not start their top pitchers in opening game action from a strategical standpoint against the No. 4 seeds to save them for Game 2 against a higher seed.
LSU coach Jay Johnson kept his starter a mystery until word began to leak out about two hours prior to first pitch. Then, with one hour to go before first pitch, it was official that Skenes would be the man.
And Skenes was the man on Friday.
“Good performance by our team,” Johnson said. “Obviously great from Paul from the mound. Speaks for itself. Very clean game defensively.”
LSU, it turned out, needed every bit it got from Skenes, who said he knew for a few days that he was going to start the opening game. He said he was very happy to do it, too.
“Yes, obviously the ability to start the regional off well, put our pitching staff and our bullpen in a good position to have a lot of rest and go into the second and third days of the regional strong, that was the primary goal of today,” Skenes said.
“Obviously win, but more happy that we’re in a good position the next few days to have all our arms,” he said, adding when asked how long he’d known he would start, “I don’t remember. A few days ago.”
Skenes tossed a career-high nine innings with 12 strikeouts to lift LSU (44-15) to an opening-round victory.
LSU will face the winner of the Oregon State and Sam Houston State matchup – a bout between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in Saturday’s winner’s bracket game at 8 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and the game can also be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates.
Tulane (19-41) moves into the loser’s bracket and will take on the loser of the OSU-SHSU game at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Skenes (11-2) tossed the first complete game of his career, while only allowing two runs on seven hits and no walks.
The performance marks the first LSU pitcher to throw a complete game in postseason play since Alex Lange did so against Cal State Fullerton on May 30, 2015. Lange posted 10 strikeouts and allowed three runs on six hits. Since 2004, two pitchers threw complete games in postseason play including Aaron Nola in a 2-0 complete game shutout over Oklahoma during the 2013 super regional round and Lane Mestepey, who threw one against Texas A&M in 2004 during super regional play.
Tulane starter Dylan Carmouche (5-9) was charged with the loss after firing 4.0 innings and allowing six runs on nine hits.
The Tigers broke the scoring seal in the game, plating a run in the bottom of the first. The frame began with Dylan Crews and third baseman Tommy White poking singles into left field. After a double play, catcher Hayden Travinski delivered an RBI-double to the right center field gap.
LSU extended its lead in the second to 3-0 on the strength of situational baseball. Second baseman Gavin Dugas began it with a single and right fielder Brayden Jobert reached via hit-by-pitch. Both runners advanced on a sac bunt and left fielder Josh Pearson drove a run with an RBI groundout.
Crews continued his impressive outing by smoking one down the third base line for an RBI double to make the score 3-0. LSU increased the margin to 4-0 in the third inning on an RBI groundout from Jobert.
The Tigers tacked on two more in the fifth inning following their first scoreless frame of the afternoon. Travinski coaxed a four-pitch walk and Beloso singled down the right-field line. Dugas pushed another run across with a sac fly. Pearson added his own sac fly to score Beloso and make the score 6-0.
In the top of the seventh, Tulane scored its first runs of the ballgame with a two-run shot from designated hitter Brennan Lambert.
LSU tacked on a final run in the eighth inning to account for the final score.
HOW IT HAPPENED
T1 – Hebert struck out looking; Banks popped out to shortstop; Marget struck out looking.
B1 – Crews first-pitch single to left between 5 and 6 hole; White single to left between 5 and 6 hole, Crews advanced to second base; Morgan grounded to second into 4-6-3 double play, Crews advanced to third; Travinski stand-up double to left center field, drives in Crews; Beloso flied out to center field.
LSU 1, Tulane 0
T2 – Bumgardt singled to center field; Lambert struck out swinging; LaPrairie deep flyout to right field, Jobert doubled up Bumgardt on a 9-3.
B2 – Dugas safe at first (reviewed); Jobert hit by pitch, Dugas advanced to second; Thompson sacrificed bunt (5-4), Dugas advanced to third base, Jobert advanced to second base; Pearson sacrificed (4-3), Dugas scored from third base, Jobert advanced to third base; Crews doubled down the left field line, Jobert scored from third; White walked intentionally with the count 3-0; Morgan hard, deep liner to left, L7.
LSU 3, Tulane 0
T3- Beckstead struck out looking; Agabedis popped out to shortstop (great catch by Thompson over his shoulder on a high pop in shallow center field); Shulz struck out swinging.
B3 – Travinski singled to third base; Beloso singled to center field, Travinski advanced to second base; Dugas sacrifice bunted, 5-4, advanced Travinski to third base and Beloso to second base; Jobert sacrificed to first base, scored Travinski from third, Beloso advanced to third base; Thompson struck out swinging.
LSU 4, Tulane 0
T4 – Hebert struck out swinging; Banks struck out; Marget line drive base hit to pitcher; Baumgardt struck out looking.
B4 – Pearson struck out swinging; Crews (with a full count) line drive single to center field; White flied out to second base; Morgan flew out to shortstop.
LSU 4, Tulane 0
T5 – Lambert singled to shortstop; LaPrairie hit hard line drive to pitcher, Skenes catches and doubled out Lambert, 1-3. Beckstead grounded out to first.
B5 – Travinski walked; Beloso singled to right field down the first base line, Travinski advanced to third base; (Lombardi to pitch for Carmouche) Dugas sacrificed to center field, scored Travinski from third base; Jobert walked; Thompson singled to right, advanced Beloso to third base and Jobert to second base; Pearson sacrificed to left field, scored Beloso from third base; Crews ground out to 4-6 fielder’s choice.
LSU 6, Tulane 0
T6 – Agabedis flew out to center field; Schulz struck out looking (9th strikeout for Skenes); Hebert struck out swinging (10th strikeout for Skenes).
B6 – White grounded out; Morgan grounded out to shortstop; Travinski lined out to right field
LSU 6, Tulane 0
T7 – Banks flied out to deep center field; Marget lined a single past shortstop; Baumgardt struck out swinging; Lambert homered to right center field, a two-run shot – his 10th home run of the season; LaPrairie lined out left center field.
Tulane scored two runs, 6-2 LSU heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
B7 – Beloso popped out to first base; Dugas popped out to second base; Jobert struck out swinging (LSU’s eighth out in a row).
LSU 6, Tulane 2
T8 – Beckstead grounded out to third base; Agabedis flied out right center field; Schulz lined a hard single up the middle into center field; Hebert singles right center, advanced Shulz to third base; (conference on mound by LSU) Banks flew out right field line.
B8 – Thompson singled past the second baseman; Pearson flew out to second base; Crews struck out looking; (Cleavinger in to pitch for Lombardi) White intentionally walked on a 3-0 count; (Prigge in to pitch for Cleavinger) Morgan walked in four pitches to load the bases; Travinski (1-0 count) (Reilly in to pitch for Prigge) walked, RBI Thompson from third base; Beloso grounded out to second base.
LSU 7, Tulane 2
T9 – Marget flew out to deep center field; Baumgardt strikes out swinging (12 Skenes’ strikeouts); Lambert grounds out to second base. Game over.
FINAL SCORE – LSU 7, Tulane 2