LSU tops Texas Southern, 16-5, after morning loss of Demie Mainieri
LSU overcame a variety of on- and off-field challenges Wednesday to rebound from a Tuesday loss before opening SEC play this weekend.
The No. 10 Tigers (12-5) ultimately rolled past a struggling Texas Southern (2-12), 16-5, but not without a few ups and downs on a day that began with the loss of Paul Mainieri's father, legendary coach Demie Mainieri.
"Obviously I'm sure (Paul Mainieri) wouldn't want that to affect the way we play," said senior right fielder Antoine Duplantis. "But, on a side note, we feel for Coach and his family, and obviously he's gonna be in all of our thoughts and hopefully he gets through this. I know that's tough. Any time you lose a family member, that's heart-breaking."
Senior pitcher Clay Moffitt set the table for LSU well in his first career start.
The former Catholic-Baton Rouge and LSU-Eunice standout faced just seven batters in the first two innings before a fielding error — the first of the team's three — behind him allowed Texas Southern a pair of unearned runs in the third.
Moffitt exited with three hits, two strikeouts and no hits in 2 2/3 innings for the win.
And his lineup provided he and the pitching staff six quick runs of support highlighted by two-run homers by Duplantis and Zach Watson in the first and second innings, respectively.
"I think we just kind of realized we've got to make an adjustment — whatever it is," Duplantis said of the bats coming alive after Tuesday's 3-1 loss at Northwestern State. "Whether the guy's throwing hard, the guy's throwing soft, just whatever the adjustment needs to be made, we've got to make adjustments. We can't just do like we did yesterday and go out there and we're not getting what we want to hit but we're just swinging away early on everything. And I think we did a good job of bouncing back from that tonight."
Texas Southern capitalized on an LSU fielding error to extend the top of the third inning and score the pair of unearned runs on a double to left-field by senior first baseman Christian Sanchez.
The visiting Tigers managed to build some slight momentum off the additional opportunities.
Texas Southern turned a one-out walk into its first earned run of the game off reliever Aaron George in the top of the fourth to cut the margin to 6-3.
And freshman right-hander Noe Guerrero recorded the final two outs of the second inning and shutout third and fourth innings after relieving senior starter Chris Suarez.
But George buckled down for LSU for a shutout top of the fifth.
The junior right-hander finished with the lone earned run on one hit, four walks and three strikes in 2 1/3 innings.
And the home Tigers' offense got back to work in the bottom half of the inning to begin rapidly extended their lead.
Sophomore left fielder Daniel Cabrera began the scoring push with a double to center field, then scored on a Cade Beloso single through the right side.
The freshman first baseman followed home on a double by sophomore catcher Brock Mathis to left-center.
And Mathis scored on a Hal Hughes single to right before Texas Southern could throw the sophomore second baseman out at second trying to extend his hit an extra base.
LSU added four more runs in the sixth inning — aided by a pair of wild pitches with runners on third and stunted by another base-running miscue — and then three in the seventh.
Freshman pitchers Riggs Threadgill and Will Rippoll closed the night for the home team.
Threadgill allowed one run on one hit, two walks and one strikeout in 1 2/3 innings.
And Rippoll allowed one ninth-inning run on two hits and one walk in 2 1/3 innings.
Watson finished 4-for-4 with home run, double, walk, three RBIs and three runs in the first four-hit game of his career.
And Duplantis and Cabrera each provided three hits.
"It feels great," Watson said. "It gets the confidence back up. It gets the hitters going again, and hopefully the pitchers are ready to go this weekend."
LSU opens SEC play this weekend with a three-game series against Kentucky.