Purple team rallies late to win Game 1 of the Purple-Gold World Series

The Purple team scored seven runs in the last two innings, capped by Mitchell Sanford’s walk-off RBI single, for a 7-6 win over the Gold team in the first game of LSU baseball’s Purple-Gold World Series Wednesday night in Alex Box Stadium.

Game 2 begins at 6:30 p.m. CT on Thursday. Right-hander Jaden Hill starts on the mound for the Purple, right-hander Ty Floyd starts for the Gold.

“This is what happens in these inter-squad games, you find out about them, some guys are ready, some guys aren’t ready yet,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. ”There’s things we need to tighten up, but there were so many good things tonight I was very pleased with some of the stuff I saw.”

From the jump, LSU’s freshmen didn’t play like freshmen with the Gold team scoring four runs in the first inning off Purple veteran starter AJ Labas.

Sophomore Zach Arnold and freshman Tre’ Morgan notched back-to-back singles before scoring on a triple from freshman Dylan Crews. Crews came around to score on a freshman Will Safford double. The fourth run in the inning came across due to Labas reaching his 25-pitch count limit in the inning.

“I’ve been seeing this every day from these guys,” Mainieri said of his freshmen. “Tre’ has just had a tremendous fall and he had a beautiful two-strike hit of AJ and a beautiful hit and run later on. Will Safford is just a gritty, tough baseball rat who does things to help his team. Dylan had a big hit, but he had a couple of strikeouts.”

Mainieri also praised Gold starter freshman Garrett Edwards and junior college transfer reliever Alex Brady who held the Purple scoreless through five innings of the seven-inning game.

“We don’t have a lot of power arms, but we’ve got some really good pitchers,” Mainieri said. “The way Garrett Edwards and Alex Brady pitched, those guys aren’t overpowering but they throw a lot of strikes and change speeds.”

The Purple team only recorded three hits through the first five innings but broke through in the bottom of the sixth as it recorded five runs on two hits.

Consecutive walks to Jordan Thompson and Brody Drost to start the inning ignited the rally. A two-out double to deep left by Drew Bianco brought home three runs to cut the deficit in half to 6-3. Bianco later came around to score on a single by Collier Cranford. Once again, due to the 25-pitch limit, a fifth run was awarded to Purple.

In the bottom of the seventh, Cade Doughty and Gus Milligan began the inning with back-to-back singles. A sacrifice bunt by Thompson moved the runners over, followed by a walk to Drost. A fielder’s choice off the bat off Gavin Dugas brought home the tying run. Sanford singled up the middle to bring home the winning run.

“This fall practice has been spirited, the guys have been very enthusiastic,” Mainieri said. “Knock on wood, we haven’t had anybody with any positive COVID tests, we haven’t had anybody in quarantine. We’ve been able to go through fall practice uninterrupted and thank goodness we have.

“I saw the football team not have spring practice and it feels like they missed out on a lot of teaching time and a lot of reps and a lot of learning about their players. I was worried that was going to happen for us if we were all of a sudden playing in January and February and not knowing our players

“ I feel now I know our players extremely well, I know what their strengths and weaknesses are and the experience they’re gaining this fall can be very useful down the road.”

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Ron Higgins

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