The Tigers’ offense struggles as LSU baseball drops its first game of the season to Stony Brook

LSU baseball will start right hander Thatcher Hurd against South Carolina today. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

LSU baseball dropped its first game of the season in a 5-2 upset loss to Stony Brook.

It was a frustrating day for LSU’s offense, scoring just one earned run and going scoreless in eight of the nine innings. Thatcher Hurd got the start for LSU and Eddie Smink started for Stony Brook. LSU ended the game with just six hits and never held the lead.

Both teams started the game with scoreless and hitless innings. LSU got two on base via walks but that was all in first inning.  

“I thought their pitcher was good. We knew that coming in, there was no question about that,” Head coach Jay Johnson said. “As far as [Paulsen], we got the leadoff guy on twice and just didn’t follow it up with very good at bats. So we got to be a little more committed to our plan, got to have a better plan and we’ll have to go back to work on that.”

Hurd gave up two singles to start the inning and then threw a wild pitch to advance the runner on second to third. A single from Matt Miceli scored the runner on third and brought Jay Johnson out for a mound visit.

Hurd gave up another run on a hit from Robert Taylor that Josh Pearson lost in the sun. He then walked Chris Leone to load the bases with just one out. Hurd was able to get out of the inning with a pop out and a strikeout to leave three runners stranded on base, but Stony Brook went to the bottom of the second with a 2-0 lead.

Pearson walked to start the bottom of the second and a single from Mac Bingham put two runners on base for the Tigers. Michael Braswell III hit a sacrifice bunt to advance to runners to third and second. Paxton Kling hit a would-be sacrifice fly to centerfield, but Cam Santerre lost it in the sun and dropped the ball to score the runners and tie the game.

Steven Milam hit a fly ball to centerfield that was caught this time and let Kling tag up to advance to third. White grounded out straight to the pitcher to end the second inning with the game tied 2-2.

After a scoreless third inning from both teams, Hurd again found himself in trouble in the top of the fourth inning. He gave up a single to Erik Paulsen to start the inning and advanced him to second on a wild pitch. He then walked two more batters to load the bases with two outs.

He found himself down 3-0 in the count against Santerre and ended up walking a runner home. He struck out Evan Goforth to again leave three runners stranded on base, but LSU trailed 3-2 heading to the bottom of the fourth. LSU went three up, three down to end the inning.

Hurd recorded one out before allowing a single and being replaced by Griffin Herring after pitching 4.1 innings. Hurd ended the day with eight strikeouts and gave up three earned runs on six hits and four walks. Herring needed just two pitches to get out of the inning as Eric Paulsen hit into a double play.

Kling got on base with a single in the bottom of the fifth, but Milam hit into a double play in the next at bat. White hit another single to again put a Tiger on base, but Hayden Travinski struck out to end the inning.

Stony Brook went three up, three down in the top of the sixth and Erik Paulsen came in to pitch for Smink. Smink ended the day with seven strikeouts while giving up three hits and two runs in 5.0 innings pitched.

“[Smink] is clearly the best pitcher that we’ve seen through six games,” Johnson said. “Not even close.”

Brady Neal hit a single to start the inning for LSU and Jared Jones hit a deep fly ball that might’ve left the park if not for the wind. Pearson flew out before a pitch in the dirt advanced Neal to second with two outs. Bingham was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, but Braswell grounded out to end the inning.

After a scoreless seventh inning from both teams, Herring gave up two hits to start the eighth inning before Johnson came out for a mound visit. A stolen base put runners on the corners and a walk loaded the bases with no outs.

The walk ended Herring’s day and he was replaced by Sam Dutton. He finished with one strikeout in 2.2 innings pitched while giving up two earned runs on two hits and one walk.

A two-RBI double from Taylor scored two more for Stony Brook and extended its lead to 5-2. Dutton recorded a strikeout to head to the bottom of the inning. LSU went three up, three down to head into the final inning facing a three-run deficit.

Goforth hit a double that looked like it would score another for Stony Brook in the top of the ninth, but a play at the plate kept things at 5-2. A groundout sent the game to the bottom of the ninth with LSU needing at least three runs to have a shot at the win.

Bingham got the inning started with a single, but Jake Brown struck out on the next at bat. Kling then hit into a putout that meant Stony Brook was just one out away from ending the game. Milam grounded out on the next play to see Stony Brook pull off the upset.

Stony Brook used just two pitchers during the game: Paulsen and Smink.

“I think our team has a chance to play a style of baseball that’s capable of winning no matter what,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we did a good job of that today and we’ll get them aligned for that better going into a game like this.”

LSU’s next game will be on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Northern Illinois. Luke Holman will start that game.

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Will Nickel

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