By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
One night after unleashing an offensive barrage on a vaunted Southeastern Conference ace, the LSU offense couldn’t muster much of anything against a soft-tossing lefty on Friday night.
Ole Miss didn’t do much in the way of hits, either, but the ones they got tended to leave the yard.
LSU managed just one run in 6.1 innings against Rebel lefty David Parkinson while Ole Miss homered four times to power a 4-1 victory and even the weekend series at Alex Box Stadium. There were scattered chances to come back late, but LSU finished a woeful 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
“Obviously the difference in the game tonight was they hit four solo home runs and we didn’t,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said bluntly. “They got four runs on four swings of the bat … We just couldn’t muster enough against them.”
The result sets up a Saturday afternoon rubber match between the Tigers (24-12, 8-6 SEC) and Rebels (22-13, 7-7 SEC). Ole Miss hasn’t won a series in Baton Rouge since 1982, a run of 18 consecutive series losses.
Jared Poche’ didn’t pitch poorly, but the senior southpaw made too many mistakes on a night when the wind howled out to left field. He allowed just five hits and set a new career high with nine strikeouts.
After failing to score until there were two outs in the ninth inning the night before, Ole Miss wasted no time Friday. Tate Blackman ambushed a 3-1 Poche’ fastball and crushed it to left for a leadoff home run. The wind was howling out to left early — not that this particular bomb needed any help.
LSU briefly drew even in the second inning. Zach Watson doubled sharply into the left field corner to lead off the inning, extending his hitting streak to 10 games in the process. Josh Smith brought him home with a Baltimore chop that found its way into left field for an RBI single.
Poche’ found a groove after allowing the leadoff home run. He set down the next 10 consecutive batters he faced — five of which came via strikeout — before Colby Bortles and Nick Fortes each connected on solo home runs to left in the fourth inning to put Ole Miss back on top, 3-1.
Ole Miss extended its lead on Blackman’s second home run of the night, a near carbon copy of the first, in the sixth inning. It was the fourth home run of the evening surrendered by Poche’, which matched the total he allowed over his first 50.1 innings this season.
“I thought he pitched a great game aside from those four pitches,” Mainieri said.
The Tigers had a chance to climb back into the game in the seventh inning after successive singles from Nick Coomes and Smith chased Parkinson from the game with one out. Will Etheridge came on and induced weak ground balls from Mike Papierski and Antoine Duplantis to end the threat.
A three-base error charged to first baseman Chase Cockrell put Greg Deichmann on third base with two outs in the eighth, presenting another fortuitous opportunity, but Jordan Romero struck out to leave him 90 feet from home plate.
“Tonight just wasn’t our night,” Mainieri said. “Sometimes that’s just the way it happens in this game. We’ve got to come back tomorrow and try to win the series.”
Prior to the game, LSU held a ceremony to retire former All-American Todd Walker’s No. 12 on the Alex Box façade along with Skip Bertman, Eddie Furniss and Ben McDonald. The Tigers could’ve used his prolific bat on Friday night.