LEXINGTON, Ky. — In its 17th inning of Friday baseball, LSU took its first lead.
Against Kentucky closer Logan Salow, who had been in the game since the fifth inning, LSU left fielder Antoine Duplantis lined a single into right field to score Josh Smith from second base and give the Tigers a one-run lead in the eighth inning.
That was all freshman Zack Hess needed, as the big right-hander fired 3.1 scoreless innings of relief to nail down a 4-3 win and even the series.
It was the first hit of the series for Duplantis, who had gone 0 for 5 to that point with a couple of tough-luck outs.
Playing about an hour after getting pummeled 12-5 in the opener, LSU started slow out of the gates.
The Tigers were shut out through the first four innings of the second game, and Kentucky was making life tough on LSU starter Alex Lange.
UK loaded the bases on Lange in the second, third and fourth innings, partially because of its lineup of accomplished hitters and partially because Lange couldn’t find the strike zone.
By the time the fourth inning ended, Kentucky had staked itself to a 3-0 lead on the strength of six hits and seven walks. Lange had thrown 89 pitches to that point and looked destined for an early exit.
But the LSU offense finally came to life after Lange finished the fourth, leaving the bases loaded for the third straight inning.
Holding a 3-1 lead with the bases loaded and the dangerous left-handed power hitter Greg Deichmann at the plate, Kentucky went with a bold strategy, bringing the left-handed Salow into the game with one out in the fifth.
Salow entered the game with some impressive statistics — 42 strikeouts against six walks in 29 innings.
He got Deichmann looking at strike three for a crucial out, but the less-heralded Nick Coomes followed by shooting a single through the right side of the infield to tie the score at 3.
It was a new game at that point. Lange went out in the bottom of the fifth and retired the side in the order, then turned the game over to Hess in the sixth with two outs and two on.
Hess escaped the jam with a ground ball to third base, then went on to keep Kentucky off the scoreboard for the next three innings to preserve the win.
LSU will send freshman right-hander Eric Walker to go for the series win at noon Sunday.