Kramer Robertson fielded the ball cleanly behind second base, spun and threw to his new (and shorter) first baseman, Bryce Jordan, in the third inning of Friday’s 12-1 victory against Fordham at Alex Box Stadium.
The ball sailed so high that Jordan — or any other infielder on the LSU roster, for that matter — had no chance to corral it. No. 9 hitter Jason Lundy advanced to second on the throw, which landed in the LSU dugout, turning the Fordham lineup over in what was then a scoreless game.
When he was named the Tigers new shortstop Tuesday, Robertson’s blunt assessment of his new duties — “just throw and catch it” — was followed with the caveat that he knew he’d likely make more errors.
Robertson’s promotion came after he had demonstrated a heightened maturity and poise to coach Paul Mainieri. In his last two seasons, Robertson carried his miscues with him, often worrying more about how they affected his status on the team rather than what he could do to compensate.
“His ability to put bad things behind him, not pout, not feel sorry for himself and start to lose confidence — all that stuff is part of maturing,” Mainieri said. “After he made that error, he came back and did some good stuff.”
After a fourth inning in which his team took a four-run lead on the back of Mike Papierski’s 414-foot homer, Robertson ranged into left field, sliding to stab Ryan McNally’s single that rolled through the six-hole.
He collected the ball with his left arm fully extended, popping up as Joseph Runco raced home.
Robertson rocketed a throw to Papierski, who caught it just in front of the plate and adjusted to tag Runco for the inning’s third out, keeping the game scoreless and putting to rest the errant throw from the third.
“It shows a lot of maturity to come back after that and make every play after that and have some good at-bats for us,” Robertson said. “That’s what you need in a shortstop, you’ve got to have a short memory and erase the mistakes you make because there’s going to be a bigger play later in the game.”
It was one of two gems for LSU’s double-play duo.
With a runner at first in the sixth, Cole Freeman ranged behind second base to nab Justin Bardwell’s high chopper, rolling the ball from his stomach to Robertson, who stepped on second to force out Matthew Kozuch for the second out.
“My glove went behind me, and I could feel the ball was actually sliding out of my glove and my hand was just behind me,” Freeman said. “I was like, ‘I need to get it over to second somehow.’ I tried to flip it up. Kramer did a good job of staying on the bag.”
The inning ended with a grounder to the pitcher and without a run crossing the plate, preserving Jared Poché’s seven-inning shutout. He skirted around eight hits and left runners in scoring position in three innings.
In all, the Rams stranded 13 runners.
“Just executing pitches, not trying to overthrow,” Poché said. “Definitely got in trouble with that in the past and tried to locate better instead of trying to overpower a guy. (I) let the defense work. They played great tonight.”
Papierski’s homer came off the bat at 100.7 mph, stinging Fordham starter Greg Weissert, whom Mainieri projected could go in the first five rounds of the June MLB draft. Weissert threw 43 pitches through his first two innings before serving the 2-0 fastball to Papierski.
“Me and (LSU hitting coach) Andy (Cannizaro) worked in the cages yesterday, and we fixed a couple things to my hands and how I started,” Papierski said. “I felt good up there and more comfortable than before.”
Chris Reid, inserted in the fifth inning for O’Neal Lochridge, collected his first collegiate hit — an RBI single as part of a five-run sixth inning that featured three walks and a three-run error from Fordham right fielder Mark Donadio, who dropped Antoine Duplantis’ routine fly ball with the bases loaded.
Follow Chandler Rome on Twitter, @Chandler_Rome.