LSU squeaks out 7-5 win over UNO in final midweek game of season
As the ping-pong balls were falling in favor of the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, baseballs were being crushed into the grandstands at Alex Box Stadium as the Tigers defeated UNO in their final midweek game of the season 7-5.
The win put the Tigers (32-21, 15-12) at 6-5 for the season against in state schools as the two teams combined for five homeruns and 23 hits. LSU wanted to treat Tuesday night’s game like a Friday night game so it decided to break out its white on white uniforms for the occasion, an experiment that wasn’t looking to great after two innings.
LSU pitchers had trouble finding the strike zone against the Privateers, particularly starting pitcher Devin Fontenot, who threw 18 balls to 24 strikes in two innings of work. The sophomore threw a scoreless first inning but was roughed up for three hits and two runs in the second inning, including a homerun that brought in two runs to give UNO the 2-0 lead.
The bullpen gave Tiger fans heart palpitations as well as relievers Matthew Beck and Aaron George both loaded the bases in their two innings of work a piece, but both left unscathed as LSU clinged to a 5-3 lead after six innings.
LSU was also able to keep up its stellar defensive play as the pitchers, who were struggling all night to record outs themselves, let the men behind them pick up the slack. The Tigers stranded 13 UNO runners on base, eight of which were in scoring position.
Despite the struggles to throw strikes, the bullpen combined to allow just one run on 11 Privateer hits.
“Every time we’ve ever played them here it’s always been a hard fought, tough ball game and I didn’t expect anything different tonight,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “I was really worried about our pitching tonight but we grinded our way through it and we’ll take the win.”
It took a few innings for LSU to feel out UNO starting pitcher Cortlynn Ramirez, but a four run explosion in the third inning quickly changed the vibe in Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers nearly batted around the order in the monster inning, headlined by Daniel Cabrera’s 12th homerun that put the Tigers up two runs, where they wouldn’t look back.
Antoine Duplantis provided a huge spark to the LSU offense Tuesday night, going 3-for-4 with his 10th homerun of the season. Over the last six games, the senior is batting .462 (12-for-26) with three homers and 11 RBIs.
Duplantis said he has found something in his swing the last six outings that has really worked for him and admitted that he was pressing a little too much when things weren’t going all that great for a six week stretch.
“I’m just trying to keep it really simple, looking for a lot of fastballs and not really complicating my approach,” Duplantis said. “Right now I’m just trying to relax and just let it happen.”
Hal Hughes also continued his big week as the third baseman came up with a clutch RBI single in the eighth inning to extend the Tiger lead to 6-3.
Zack Hess came in to record the final out of the eighth inning with a strikeout. The ninth inning went a little different for the junior, who allowed a two RBI homerun that cut the Tiger lead in half but Hess would bounce back by fanning the final two batters to close the Privateers out.
LSU will now close the regular season with a three game series with Auburn starting on Thursday. The Tigers will need a solid showing this weekend and a few wins in the SEC tournament to have a chance at hosting a regional come NCAA tournament time.