By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU’s annual Purple and Gold World Series got underway on a picturesque Tuesday night with a collection of former stalwarts coaching two evenly-divided teams of what will be the 2018 Tigers.
The Gold squad upended the Purple team 9-4 to take Game One, but of course the results in these scrimmages don’t mean much compared to individual performances as LSU coach Paul Mainieri and Co. map out next season’s team.
Here’s some game one standouts and observations:
- Change it up: Freshman right-hander A.J. Labas, a serious contender to win the third starter job, started for the purple team and worked two scoreless innings before running into trouble in the third. His fastball sat 85-86 mph, but that was more than enough to complement a plus changeup. Labas demonstrated an ability to throw his changeup in any count to right- or left-handed hitters, which is rare for such a young pitcher. He fanned Zach Watson on a nasty low-and-outside changeup in the first inning. “His first two innings were really good,” Mainieri said. “He’s not really in great pitching shape yet because of him getting a slow start due to his back, but you can see what I like about him. He looks like a pitcher out there. He has a three-pitch mix. He throws strikes.” Mainieri expects his velocity to pick up to around 90 mph once the spring rolls around.
- Guess who’s back? Nick Coomes made his surprise fall debut after sitting out since the summer due to offseason hip surgery. Coomes, who hit but did not run in his return to action, blooped the first pitch he’d seen all fall into right field for a single off Todd Peterson. “Rusty, to say the least,” Coomes said of his return. “It’s nice to get back out there with the guys. Watching them all fall and not being able to do stuff has been aggravating. It’s been nice to get out there and hit a little bit.”
- Staying Hot: Catcher Hunter Feduccia continued his blistering fall at the plate for the Gold team. He smoked an RBI single off Labas in the third inning and capped a three-run fourth inning with a bases-loaded single to right in a left-on-left matchup against Brandon Nowak. “He’s been doing that all fall,” Mainieri said. “Before this year is over, we may be talking about him as one of the better all-around catchers we’ve had here.”
- Large Lefty: John Kodros, a 6-foot-4 lefty, worked himself into and out of quite a jam in the fifth. Runners reached second and third with nobody out, but Kodros popped up Nick Webre and struck out Doolittle and Chris Reid to end the inning.
- Sweet Save: The Gold team took a 9-2 lead into the sixth inning only to see the Purple side rally. Purple scored twice and re-loaded the bases with two outs, prompting Gold coach Sean Ochinko to bring outfielder Daniel Cabrera in for the final out. He popped up Doolittle to end the game.
HOW THEY SCORED
T1- Brandt Broussard tripled to right field off Peterson and scored on a passed ball. (1-0 Purple)
T3- Antoine Duplantis brought home a run with a booming double to right off Peterson. (2-0 Purple)
B3- Zach Watson and Hunter Feduccia had back-to-back RBI singles off Labas. Bryce Jordan beat out the back end of a double play to bring home the go-ahead run. (3-2 Gold)
B4- Hal Hughes smoked an RBI double off the left field wall off Clay Moffitt. Hughes came home with another run on a strikeout that got away from catcher Mason Doolittle. Feduccia capped the inning with an RBI single to right off the lefty Brandon Nowak. (6-2 Gold)
B5- After a walk loaded the bases with two outs, Daniel Cabrera roped a two-run single to right off Will Reese. Watson then smoked a double that would’ve cleared the bases were it not for the three-run limit per inning. (9-2 Gold)
T6- Lefty Taylor Petersen walked the bases loaded and Duplantis drove home a run with a deep sacrifice fly to center field. Beau Jordan followed with a two-out RBI single to center. (9-4 Gold)