Zach Watson is in the midst of one of those hot streaks where he can carry a lineup from the leadoff spot.
The star centerfielder posted his third consecutive three-hit game and fifth straight multiple-hit game, going 3-for-3 with three RBI, three runs scored and two stolen bases. He’s now 11-for-17 with eight RBI in his past four games.
“Lately I’ve been seeing the ball a lot better,” Watson smiled.
Led by Watson and Daniel Cabrera, who pounded out a career-high four hits and drove in the go-ahead run, LSU dug its way out of an early 4-0 hole to rout Tulane 10-4 at Alex Box Stadium on Wednesday night. The victory snaps a four-game losing streak and marks LSU’s first win over its chief in-state rival since 2015.
“For the first few innings we were kind of sleepwalking, to be honest with you,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “But then all the sudden we started to swing the bats a little bit and got some clutch hits. Watson was a huge leader for us tonight. He did it when we needed it the most.”
LSU scored five times on six singles in the fifth inning on take the lead for good. RBI knocks from Beau Jordan and Cabrera tied the game and put LSU ahead, respectively. Watson then came through with a two-out, two-run single after Tulane elected to pitch to him with first base open.
“I was just looking for pitches to drive, and when I got it, I didn’t miss it,” Cabrera said of his big night. “I’ve just been kind of long (with my swing), and (hitting coach Sean) Ochinko has been working with me on staying short to the ball. Since then I’ve been able to see the ball a lot better.”
Given a lead, the LSU bullpen put the clamps down on the Green Wave. Devin Fontenot and Matt Beck struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. Nick Bush worked a clean eighth inning with a strikeout.
Antoine Duplantis broke the game open with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh. Winners of two in a row, LSU (15-7) will travel to Nashville Thursday and begin a three-game series at Vanderbilt on Friday night.
The biggest storyline within the game: heralded freshman Nick Storz started and worked a scoreless inning in his long-awaited college debut.
The big right-hander got off to a rather inauspicious start by hitting the first two batters he faced, but Storz seemed to settle in after fielding his position well on a sacrifice bunt.
“I kind of had to take a deep breath, relax and not let my mind go a mile a minute,” Storz said. “You’ve got to keep yourself composed and try to get out of that inning without giving up a run. Once you get an instant play like that bunt, you get your mind locked back in.”
Storz, sitting 91-92 mph with his fastball and bumping 94, blew away Tulane cleanup hitter David Bengood with a high fastball. He got out of the inning unscathed thanks to a slick play from Hal Hughes deep in the hole at shortstop. Storz threw nine of his 17 pitches for strikes.
“He dug himself a hole right away, but he was able to get out of it,” Mainieri said. “It was nice that he got a shutout inning, and the next time he goes out there he’ll be a little bit more sharp. He’s going to help us a lot.”
Midweek starter AJ Labas took over from there, but Tulane lit him up for four runs before making an out in the third inning. The freshman hadn’t allowed a run in the first 12 innings of his collegiate career. Labas did bounce back and give LSU three scoreless innings before turning things over to the bullpen.
LSU promptly started chipping away at the deficit. Austin Bain got the Tigers on the board with a bases-loaded walk in the third. Watson roped an RBI double in the fourth and Brandt Broussard picked up his first of two RBI on the night to get LSU within one.