LSU lost a five-run lead in the span of one inning, and UNO did not stop there, pounding out 14 hits and 11 runs to hand the Tigers an 11-8 loss.
“There were two innings there where we couldn’t get them out, couldn’t stop them,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.
UNO (4-0) sent 19 batters to the plate in the fifth and sixth innings and torched the LSU (3-1) bullpen for 10 runs on 10 hits. Having just beat a consensus top-five team, UNO busted out in a celebration on the field.
“I’m mentally exhausted right now, and I’m sure they’re both mentally and physically exhausted,” UNO coach Blake Dean said. “They just played their butts off all night tonight.”
Dean, a former LSU standout himself, said he and his players were not going to take the win lightly.
“Let’s be honest, that’s LSU, it’s the top team in the state of Louisiana, and that’s what everyone knows them as,” Dean said. “… For us, that’s a milestone.”
Largely on the strength of home runs by Bryce Adams, Brennan Breaux and Kramer Robertson, LSU jumped out to a 6-1 lead midway through the fifth inning.
Adams and Breaux — who combined to hit .142 with one home run between them last year — went back-to-back in the second inning in a span of four pitches to give LSU a 2-0 lead.
They added to the score again in a more subdued manner in the fourth inning. With runners on second and third, Adams knocked in Josh Smith with a sacrifice fly to center field. Breaux followed with an RBI single to left that scored Nick Coomes to give LSU a 5-1 lead.
It looked like the game was headed for a blowout after the first batter of the fifth inning, when UNO pitcher William Griffin (1-0) grooved a 1-1 fastball to Kramer Robertson, and Robertson clubbed it over the left field fence to make it 6-1.
But that lead was built with Caleb Gilbert pitching. The sophomore right-hander was sharp, walking none and striking out four over four strong innings.
He handed a 6-1 lead to right-hander Hunter Kiel to start the fifth inning, and it was gone before the inning was over.
Kiel struggled to command his pitches, needing 30 pitches to get through two-thirds of an inning. He also failed to find his put-away pitch, giving up a triple and a double to hitters who had two strikes against them.
LSU led 6-3 when coach Paul Mainieri called for Collin Strall (0-1) to relieve Kiel. Four batters later, Strall had given up two doubles, a single, a walk and the lead.
He was pulled before he could get an out shortly after giving up the go-ahead run on a single by No. 9 hitter Samuel Capielano. Capielano led the inning off with a triple.
“For a while there, anything they hit — hard or soft — was finding a hole,” Robertson said. “Credit them, they swung the bats really well. Obviously, when you get 14 hits and 11 runs against a team that made no errors, they earned everything they got.”
Russell Reynolds finally ended the inning by getting UNO’s 11th batter, Aaron Palmer, to softly line out to second base. But the Privateers were not done.
Tristan Clarke smashed a one-out home run off Reynolds to kick start another UNO rally. Reynolds allowed a walk, a single and a double to successive batters before being pulled in favor of Doug Norman.
Norman allowed a two-out, two-run single up the middle to No. 8 hitter Owen Magee to cap a four-run Privateer sixth. Magee and Capielano, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters in the UNO lineup, finished 4-for-8 with 5 RBIs.
The combination of Kiel, Strall and Reynolds combined to record four outs while allowing three walks, nine hits — seven of which went for extra bases — and 10 earned runs.
“The guys we brought in are going to be guys we’re going to need to count on,” Mainieri said. “Some of them just had a little bit of a rough time tonight.”
Two of those extra base hits were aided by failed diving attempts by LSU outfielders, and one glanced off Smith’s glove at third base, but all were hit hard.
“They didn’t miss many pitches,” Mainieri said. “They’re a very aggressive, good-hitting team, and when we made mistakes, they jumped all over them.”
The LSU bats were unable to keep pace.
Griffin settled after giving up the home run to Robertson to lead off the LSU fifth inning. He hung zeroes on the scoreboard in the sixth and seventh — working out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh — and allowed an unearned run in the eighth.
LSU tacked on a run on a Jake Slaughter RBI single in the ninth inning and brought the tying run to the plate, but Nick Coomes bounced into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.
The Tigers will return home to face Hofstra at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.