He threw another gem Saturday night, but unlike diamonds, Jared Poché’s mustache was not going to last forever.
Poché, who entered Saturday’s game having thrown 29 consecutive scoreless innings to start the year, saw his streak snapped at 32 innings. That means the mustache that he had been allowed to nurture during the duration of the streak will soon be gone.
“It was a great run,” he said. “I’m definitely going to remember the mustache.”
LSU coach Paul Mainieri felt differently: “We finally get to get rid of that mustache," he quipped.
While Poché wasn’t flawless this time, he was close, and LSU rallied around his strong outing to clinch the series against Georgia with a 5-1 win.
Poché’s streak ended when Keegan McGovern led off the fourth inning by walloping an 0-1 fastball over the wall in right-center. Right fielder Greg Deichmann had a bead on the ball and made a leaping effort but was not able to keep it in the yard.
Deichmann said he isn’t sure whether he had a legitimate shot at the ball. After the game, Poché asked strength coach Travis Roy if he thought Deichmann could’ve caught it, and Roy said he wasn’t sure.
“I said, ‘Well, would LeBron James have robbed it?’ ” Poché said. “He was like, ‘Yeah.’ C’mon, Greg.”
The home run ended a magnificent stretch by Poché (5-0). His streak of 32 consecutive scoreless innings was the second-longest in LSU (15-5, 2-0) history, but it was the way he did it that was truly impressive.
Nineteen of his 32 scoreless innings were perfect innings, in which he did not allow a base runner. He only allowed 11 hits in the entire span and, once they got on base, they barely advanced.
This week, his coaches spoke about Poché’s ability to make the big pitch in the big situation, but he was so rarely in a pressure position during the streak: Only eight base runners reached scoring position against him during the streak — and remarkably only one of those reached third base.
That home run may have ended his streak, but Poché started a new one. The senior logged three scoreless innings after being touched for the solo home run, giving up the ball to the bullpen after seven strong innings.
“He’s really amazing to me,” Mainieri said. “He’s just a consummate team player.”
As has been the case most of this season, Poché didn’t do it alone. LSU turned three double plays behind him, including one that got him out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth.
With a runner on second in the third — the 32nd inning of Poché's streak — Kramer Robertson made a diving catch on a soft liner for the second out, and Zach Watson somehow raced forward to catch a Cam Shepherd missile in shallow center.
“They picked me up,” Poché said. “They’ve been doing it all year. If those plays aren’t made, I probably don’t make it to the seventh inning.”
With Poché’s streak over, the attention shifts to the next-best streak going.
Sophomore left fielder Antoine Duplantis extended his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest by an LSU hitter this season. But as with Poché, his true excellence is in the details.
Duplantis responded to McGovern’s home run by cracking his own long ball — the first hit of the game off Georgia starter Tony Locey (2-3) — as the leadoff hitter in the LSU fourth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie.
“I was definitely not thinking a home run,” Duplantis said. “I was kind of thinking to hit something hard, look for something low in the zone, and that’s where he pitched it.”
In the next inning, with the bases loaded, Duplantis cracked a two-run single through the right side, giving LSU a 4-1 lead. The clutch nature of his hits was especially big on a night LSU had to make them count: The Tigers finished with just four hits.
To say Duplantis has been zeroed in might not fully encapsulate how hot he has been of late. He drove in seven runs in Friday night’s contest on his way to setting LSU’s single-game hits record with six.
After driving in three more runs Saturday, he has 10 RBIs in the series. In the seven games since he was moved into the No. 3 spot in the lineup, Duplantis has gone 17 of 33 (.515) with 20 RBIs.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Deichmann said. “… He’s seeing it well, he’s making consistent contact and he’s finding holes everywhere.”
Caleb Gilbert, making his first appearance since Mainieri revealed the injury to closer Hunter Newman, logged two scoreless innings to record his first save.
LSU will go for the series sweep over Georgia (8-12, 0-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday.