LSU spent the majority of Wednesday’s in-state matchup at UL-Lafayette scratching and clawing for runs, taking advantage of five errors to establish a four-run lead entering the ninth inning.
Then the Tigers’ offense lit the fuse.
Triggered by a two-run, pinch-hit home run from freshman Brody Drost, No. 11 LSU cracked six consecutive hits and scored five times in its last at-bats to complete an 11-2 romp over the Ragin’ Cajuns at “Tigue” Moore Field.
“Just a total team effort by everybody,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “It was fun to win a game on the road against a good team. That’s a team playing with a lot of confidence and they’re a good ball club and the arms we faced tonight were legitimate arms. I’m starting to feel better about our team every day.”
LSU’s relief pitching kept the margin at four runs after UL-Lafayette (2-2) closed to within 6-2 and loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning.
Tigers’ senior closer Devin Fontenot, in his first big moment of the season, delivered a clutch double play. The right-hander snagged a scorching line drive off the bat of Drake Osborn and then turned to first baseman Tre’ Morgan to double up Carson Roccaforte.
Fontenot ended the inning with a strikeout.
“There for a second they were thinking they had a chance on us,” said Fontenot, who came in relief of Alex Brady. “I had to come in and pick up my man Brady and figure out a way to get the momentum back for our team, for our hitters. It showed in the that ninth inning. We put up five. We didn’t quit.”
LSU (3-1) ended a three-game losing streak in its annual series with UL-Lafayette. On the strength of their final plate appearance, the Tigers outhit the Cajuns 14-5 and but made an even bigger statement with their play on defense with no errors.
LSU freshman Will Hellmers, who relieved starting pitcher Garrett Edwards, was credited with his first collegiate win. He pitched two scoreless innings owith two strikeouts.
“The story of the game was the two freshman pitchers,” Mainieri said. “Garrett Edwards got us off to a great start and Will Hellmers, we got him back on the mound, and he looked fantastic. Giving both those guys the early lead was really a wonderful thing and allowed them to go out and challenge the hitters.”
Edwards worked three innings in his first collegiate start, allowing a run on three hits. He walked one and struck out four in his 54-pitch outing.
Prior to the knockout ninth inning, LSU’s most productive inning was in the second when the Tigers scored three times for a 3-0 lead.
Alex Milazzo’s RBI-groundout scored Mitchell Sanford, who led off with a walk and reached third on a flyball that was dropped in the outfield for the first of two UL-Lafayette errors in the inning. Second baseman Cade Doughty (3-for-6, 2 RBIs) sent a hot smash to the left side of the infield for a 2-run single scoring Gavin Dugas and Jordan Thompson for a pair of unearned runs.
The Tigers extended their lead to 4-0 an inning later when Thompson was safe on an infield single, a hard-hit ball that caromed off Cajuns’ third baseman C.J. Willis, an LSU transfer.
UL-Lafayette responded in its half of the inning when LSU transfer Brennan Breaux launched his first home run of the season to right field, Edwards’ only mistake of the night.
Despite loading the bases with two outs, Edwards avoided further damage with a strikeout to end the inning.
LSU scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, extending its lead to 6-1.
Shortstop Zach Arnold walked with the bases-loaded to force in Dylan Crews who reached base after a one-out passed ball on a dropped third strike in the sixth.
The Tigers cashed in on another error in the seventh when Crews smoked a ball that could have been a potential double play. Shortstop Sam Riola came up with a nifty play from his belly for a force out at second, but the relay throw from second baseman Jonathan Brandon one-hopped past Breaux at first and caromed off the Cajuns’ dugout for another run.
“They made a couple of errors that aided us, and we want to be on that side,” Mainieri said. “We don’t want to make errors that helps the other team. Overall, I thought we played a good, solid game in every facet. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
After Fontenot got LSU out of the eighth inning, Dugas (3-5) had a one-out single in the ninth and Mainieri brought in Drost to pinch-hit for Thompson, where he launched an 0-1 pitch well beyond the right field wall.
Doughty, who also excelled in the field, followed with a ground-rule double to produce a run, Morgan ended a 0-for-10 stretch at the plate with a run-scoring single and Cade Beloso’s ground out resulted in another run.
“I can’t get Brody Drost’s home run out of my mind,” Mainieri said. “It was like a rocket shooting out of the ballpark. That wasn’t the only big swing. We had a lot of huge at bats.”