By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU wore its throwback jerseys and a good old fashion home run derby ensued with the wind blowing out at Alex Box Stadium.
Mike Papierski connected for a grand slam as part of a five-run fourth inning, but Tulane homered thrice — two off the bat of Jake Willsey — and held on to edge LSU 7-6 in a Tuesday night slugfest.
LSU had its chances to pull even late but couldn’t take advantage. The Tigers left the bases loaded in the seventh inning as Jake Slaughter lined out to the third baseman.
Then Tulane shortstop Sal Gozzo threw out Beau Jordan, representing the tying run, at the plate on as he tried to score from third base on an infield chopper in the eighth inning. Jordan went on contact — a called play from the bench — and was correctly called out on a bang-bang play. A video review confirmed the call.
“It’s a contact play, so you’re going no matter what,” Jordan said. “They were playing infield in and I got a good jump on it, but the shortstop made a good throw. I was out.”
An error gave LSU life in the ninth inning, bringing the Tigers within and run and allowing the tying run to reach third base in the person of Josh Smith. Greg Deichmann, who tied a school record with four walks — Tulane showed no interest in pitching to the slugger with the wind galling out — scored on the play, but Slaughter flew out to center field to end the game.
The Tigers finished 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base to drop its fourth in-state midweek decision of the season. LSU dropped to 18-9 on the season while the Green Wave improved to 10-15.
“We didn’t do enough tonight,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I don’t know what to say. We had opportunities but we’re just obviously struggling a little bit at the plate and we need to get it straightened out, get guys’ confidence back and get ready for Thursday.”
LSU right hander Zack Hess came out of the gate sharp, striking out four — three on curveballs — over his first two innings of work. Tulane jumped ahead when Willsey took the right hander deep for a solo home run to left center field to lead off the third inning.
Tulane doubled its lead in the fourth on a fielder’s choice, but Hess came back strong to limit the damage. He struck out back-to-back batters swinging to strand runners on first and second base.
LSU loaded the bases with one out thanks to two walks and a hit batsman in the bottom half of the inning. Slaughter struck out for the second out, but red-hot Beau Jordan singled to get LSU within a run and keep the inning alive for Papierski.
Batting right handed, the backstop lifted a fly ball to left field that just kept carrying. Tulane left fielder Lex Kaplan made a leaping bid, but the ball sailed just over the fence for LSU’s first grand slam of the season.
Tulane took its turn playing long ball the following inning. Kaplan, a lefty swinger, took an offering from Hess out to the deepest part of left-center field for a two-run blast. Hess finished the inning and left having allowed four runs on five hits in five innings with seven strikeouts.
“When the wind blows out of this place, it’s kind of like a pinball machine,” Hess said. “It was a night when you couldn’t really miss, and when you did, they made you pay for it. But you can’t really complain because some stuff went our way, too.”
The Green Wave retook the lead against LSU reliever Russell Reynolds in the sixth inning. Papierski gunned down a would-be base stealer to erase a walk, but Willsey belted his second home run of the game, a two-run shot to left, to put Tulane ahead 6-5. Hunter Williams brought home an insurance run with an RBI double in the top of the ninth.
LSU will have a short turnaround before hosting Texas A&M for a three-game series set to begin Thursday night at Alex Box Stadium.
-Mainieri had no update on closer Hunter Newman’s back. “We’ll see how he does tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t know anymore today than I do yesterday.”
-Mainieri swapped positions between Antoine Duplantis (CF) and Zach Watson (LF). He said post game that he’s not sure if the switch will continue going forward.
-Mainieri on opposing teams not pitching to Deichmann: “I was afraid that might happen. He’s a real threat up there, and if I was in the other team’s dugout, I wouldn’t want him to beat me either.”