Not long after being mobbed by his teammates on the mound, senior pitcher Jared Poché received a Gatorade shower and a shaving-cream pie.
As far as LSU was concerned, he deserved every bit of the celebratory trifecta. It’s not every day a player throws a no-hitter. To be precise, it had been 13,856 days since the last one by an LSU pitcher.
Poché, LSU’s square-jawed and stoic southpaw, became the first individual LSU player to throw a no-hitter since March 14, 1979. In the process, the Tigers clinched a doubleheader sweep against Army with a 6-0 win and opened its season in near-perfect fashion.
It was the sixth no-hitter in LSU history. Of the five previous individual no-hitters, four were accomplished in seven innings, like Poché’s. The last was thrown by Bobby Landry in a 1-0 win against Southern Miss some 38 years ago.
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Saturday was a dream for LSU baseball, can they keep it going Sunday?
He had reason to know it. He has his dad to thank for that. During a family dinner Friday night, Jerry Poché told his son he was going to throw a no-hitter Saturday.
Poché was upset at his dad for dooming him to a bad outing.
“I said, ‘Why are you saying that, putting that on me?’ ” Poché said. “I was expecting to get hit all around the ball park today. The next thing you know, it happens. It’s crazy the way things work.”
He didn’t realize his dad just Babe Ruthed one of the top moments of his career, calling his shot before it happened.
He came oh so close to throwing the second perfect game in LSU history.
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Army’s only base runner in the seven-inning contest reached on an error by right fielder Greg Deichmann, who in the fourth inning called off second baseman Cole Freeman on a fly ball in shallow right field but then couldn’t make the play.
“I just overran it,” said Deichmann, who said Poché later told him it wasn’t a big deal.
Other than that, Poché was untouchable. He retired nine straight to start the game and 12 straight after the error and only reached a three-ball count on three occasions.
“His command was awesome, and when he fell behind in counts he came back and made some big pitches,” Mainieri said.
Poché needed 79 pitches to complete the feat — six shy of his predetermined maximum. He buckled down in the later innings, needing just nine pitches to get through the fourth inning, eight to get through the fifth, and six to get through the sixth.
He came out of the gates strong, striking out four of the first six batters he faced, then leaned on his defense as the game wore on.
Particularly, he leaned on shortstop Kramer Robertson, who assisted on six of the game’s 21 outs.
Robertson might’ve wanted the no-hitter more than anyone not named Poché. He started counting outs after Deichmann’s error, which is when he realized Poché had a no-hitter going. He turned in his best play of the night as soon as he knew what was at stake.
Immediately following Deichmann’s error, Army third baseman Anfernee Crompton ripped a shot to the hole between Robertson and Smith. Robertson ranged to his arm side to backhand the ball, then made a quick transfer and absurdly strong throw as his momentum carried him into left field. Robertson’s throw beat Crompton by a step.
“I absolutely knew what was going on,” Robertson said. “I wanted the ball hit to me every play. I wanted to be the guy to make the play for him.”
That was the first of several standout plays by Robertson, who earned high praise from Mainieri afterward.
“I thought Kramer put on a clinic,” Mainieri said. “That was as well as I’ve ever seen Alex Bregman, or Austin Nola or DJ LeMahieu play shortstop at Alex Box Stadium.”
Army starter Ty Giovinco was turning in his own memorable outing at Alex Box Stadium. He shut out LSU’s lineup through the first four innings, limiting them to just three hits.
But Bryce Adams opened the fifth with a booming double off the wall in left, and Smith broke a scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly to center field. Robertson broke the game open with a two-run triple later in the inning to make it 3-0, and the Tigers added three more runs in the sixth.
After the celebration had died down, Mainieri found Poché on the mound and asked him a rhetorical question. Poché made a tough decision to return for his senior season after he was selected in the 14th round by the San Diego Padres last June.
“Was it worth coming back to experience that today?” Mainieri said.
Poché’s answer: “One hundred percent.”
As he walked Brad Garafola Jr. to the pitching mound, LSU baseball star shortstop Kramer Rob…