LSU made the most of its clutch opportunities against Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday night.
Of the eight runs LSU scored in its 8-2 win against the Lions, seven came home on two-out hits, and all of those runs came courtesy of two players — Greg Deichmann and Josh Smith.
“It’s always great to get two-out RBIs,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “Those are really back-breakers for the other team. When you feel like you’re just about out of a jam and somebody comes through with a two-out hit, it’s a little bit demoralizing.”
Deichmann padded his Southeastern Conference lead when he clubbed his eighth home run of the season with two outs in the LSU third inning against Southeastern starter Carlisle Koestler.
With runners on the corners, the junior outfielder worked the count full before he launched the pitch the opposite way over the wall in left-center field. It ended a six-game homerless streak for the LSU slugger and gave the Tigers a 4-0 lead over Southeastern (14-6).
Deichmann said the homer came on a 3-2 changeup. He said he’s seen pitchers throw off-speed pitches to him in situations like that frequently this season.
“I did a good job tonight seeing it and expecting it,” Deichmann said.
Deichmann finished the night 2-for-3 with three runs driven in, giving him a team-best 30 RBIs on the season.
Smith enjoyed a career night, going 4-for-4 with four RBIs. He had only picked up five hits in his previous eight games before Wednesday night.
“I tried not to get down on myself when I was struggling a little bit,” Smith said. “Try not to get too high when you’re hitting well. It’s a funny game.”
He gave LSU (17-5) the lead for good in the bottom of the second inning, when he hit a booming two-out double to deep center field to score Zach Watson and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
His second double of the day wasn’t the impressive display of hitting the first one was, but it was the back-breaker.
With the bases loaded and LSU leading 5-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Smith hit a blooper into the no man’s land between second base, right field and center field.
It hung up long enough for center fielder Jacob Seward to make a valiant diving attempt at it, but the ball evaded Seward and skipped away.
“If our energy’s different, if we’re playing a little bit different, I think we catch that ball nine times out of 10 with Seward out there in center field,” Southeastern coach Matt Riser said.
Freshman right-hander Zack Hess (3-0) turned in four sterling innings for LSU, allowing just two hits and a run while striking out four. Mainieri said he wanted to keep him under 60 pitches Wednesday so he’d be available out of the bullpen this weekend at Florida.
The only blemish on his night came when Southeastern cleanup hitter Taylor Schwaner hit a towering solo home run over the left field bleachers in the fourth inning.
Four LSU relievers combined to allow one run in five innings Wednesday.
Freshman right-hander Matthew Beck continued his ascent toward a prominent role in the LSU bullpen, striking out two in 1.2 perfect innings. Beck has now thrown 8.1 innings without allowing a run this season.
“The bullpen really did a great job, especially Matthew Beck,” Mainieri said. “Boy, what a super job he did. He came in and really did what he’s been doing; he threw a lot of strikes, got some clutch outs.”
The win ended a three-game skid against Southland Conference opponents for LSU. It was also the Tigers' eighth win in nine games.
“That was a good win against a quality opponent, a team that I’m certain will be in the NCAA tournament,” Mainieri said. “That’s a really good team. It was a good, solid win for us and a good momentum game for going down to Gainesville.”