No. 2 LSU baseball’s offense struggles, scores just one run in loss to Xavier

LSU baseball heads into its last road series of the season needing a win. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

No. 2 LSU baseball’s offense struggled and couldn’t seem to threaten the Xavier pitching staff in a 2-1 loss.

LSU (14-2) finished with just 5 hits and its only run came courtesy of an error. The loss kept LSU from securing the series sweep over Xavier (8-8).

“I think we won nine games in a row in Division 1 baseball and we got a lot of work to do to get better,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said.

Thatcher Hurd put in a solid performance on the day after struggling in his first couple starts this season. He recorded nine strikeouts in 5.0 innings and allowed four hits, one walk and one unearned run.

Xavier’s starting pitcher Nick Boyle put in a similar performance with seven strikeouts through 5.0 innings. He gave up four hits, two walks and one unearned run. Xavier’s pitching staff recorded 12 strikeouts and gave up just one extra base hit.

The LSU offense finally scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning to break the 0-0 deadlock.

Jared Jones hit a deep triple to center field that bounced off the wall with one out gone in the inning. Ashton Larson struck out in the next at bat, but with one out to go Mac Bingham hit a ball that Xavier second baseman Jared Cushing struggled to field cleanly.

Bingham reached first and Jones came home on what was ruled an error by Cushing to bring the score to 1-0. Michael Braswell III struck out swinging to end the inning.

Through the first four innings LSU and Xavier each had four hits and the one run in the game was unearned. Xavier responded with an unearned run of its own in the next inning to tie the game up at 1-1.

Jake Lambdin reached base on a walk to start the inning before a throwing error from Hurd let put another runner on base. A wild pitch from Hurd advanced the runners to second and third. Hurd tallied a strikeout before a groundout brought Lambdin home. Hurd recorded another strikeout to head to the bottom of the inning.

LSU couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the fifth inning and Hurd was replaced by Nate Ackenhausen to start the sixth inning.

“Great outing,” Johnson said. “[Hurd] struck a lot of guys out but I really liked how he handled the innings where there was traffic with guys on base. I mean we had second and third with no outs and they didn’t score. He did a great job today.”

Ackenhausen found himself in trouble early with a runner on third with two outs to go. Jared Cushing hit an RBI single to center field to give Xavier its first lead of the series 2-1.

LSU got out of the frame without letting Xavier add to its lead, but the LSU offense couldn’t respond in the bottom of the sixth. LSU reached base thanks to an error and a walk, but the Tigers left both runners stranded to head to the seventh down one.

Ackenhausen got through the top of the seventh without any trouble. White recorded his first base hit of the game in the bottom of the inning with two outs gone, but a Josh Pearson fly out ended the inning.

Ackenhausen recorded one out in the eight before being pulled for Gavin Guidry. He allowed two hits, one walk and one run through 2.1 innings pitched. Guidry allowed a single but nothing else to head to the bottom of the eighth.

LSU’s offense went three up, three down in the bottom of the inning and was down to its last three outs needing at least one more run to keep the series sweep alive. Guidry did his job in the ninth and sent the Xavier batters down in a 1-2-3 inning.

“I thought we pitched fantastic all weekend long which is great because that’s going to give us a chance to win every game,” Johnson said. “They scored their two runs, we mishandled a bunt and then we had an error on the pickoff. Credit Xavier.”

Jake Brown was hit by a pitch to put the tying run on base to start the inning. Milam grounded out in the next at bat but advanced Brown to second base. A groundout from Travinski brought Brown to third base with one out left for LSU. Brady Neal struck out swinging in a three-pitch at bat to end the game and strand the tying run.

LSU’s next game is on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against North Dakota State.

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Will Nickel

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