The announced crowd of 10,046 roared only once Tuesday night at Alex Box Stadium.
It happened before the teams they paid to see even stepped from the dugouts.
Southern football player Devon Gales, who suffered a spinal injury during a game Sept. 26 against Georgia, tossed a strike from his wheelchair to LSU pitcher Jared Poché, who was crouched behind the plate. Both dugouts simultaneously emptied to shake his hand and pose for pictures.
“That was a wonderful thing,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.
As for the game — one Mainieri admitted he viewed as a trap — LSU accomplished what it intended in the 11-1 win against Southern. Numerous pitchers got work, every healthy position player played and the Tigers avoided injury with No. 2 Vanderbilt looming Thursday.
But Gales’ pitch permitted a moment of exultation in an otherwise unappealing contest.
The Tigers offense, seemingly back on track after a weekend series win at Auburn, needed no power or fanfare to pick up a third straight win as Southern pitching aided LSU at every turn, walking six and hitting six in a tepid, three-hour tussle.
The Jaguars committed four errors and threw three wild pitches.
“I’ve been playing baseball for a long time,” LSU freshman Antoine Duplantis said. “Some of those games you’re supposed to win can be the hardest. There’s not as many fans in the stands, and it’s harder for people to get up in the dugout because it’s a different look for us.”
Duplantis rocketed a triple to the right-field warning track with two outs in the fourth for the Tigers’ only extra-base hit. Southern starter Harold Myles finished the night with five walks and four hit batters — two of which were Kramer Robertson — in a five-inning start where he allowed more earned runs (seven) than hits (six).
LSU sent 10 men to the plate in a four-run first inning that also included two throwing errors from Southern catcher Jose de la Torre — the second of which allowed Robertson to score in the 20-minute half inning, during which Myles walked two more and gave up three singles.
“It’s difficult to win when you walk and hit a lot of people,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “That makes it much harder, especially against this kind of team. It sort of took us right out of it, but Harold did settle in.”
Coming off a control-optional start against Tulane when he threw 16 of his final 17 pitches for balls, Cole McKay allowed the only run of eight LSU pitchers in a shaky sixth inning. He permitted three hits, the last of which was an infield RBI single from Malik Blaise.
McKay stranded two with a strikeout of Javeayan Williams, McKay’s third of the inning and one of 13 accumulated by LSU pitching.
The Tigers scored three runs each in the fifth and the sixth — the final blow a roped single into left field off Mike Papierski’s bat in the sixth that grew the lead to 10-1.
Papierski — pulled from Saturday’s doubleheader against Auburn after not exerting an acceptable effort while blocking Alex Lange’s pitches — reached base three times, picked a runner off at first in the second and caught another stealing in the fifth.
“We had ten hits, scored 11 runs, so I don’t think we were down or anything like that,” Papierski said. “Pitchers threw really well, came in and threw strikes and we got through this game.”
Added Mainieri: “It was a good thing for the community to play the game, but I’m kind of happy we got it over with and now we can turn our attention to Vanderbilt and get ready for a big series this weekend.”