There will be no inside-the-park home run at Alex Box Stadium – at least not because of a bench.
LSU’s grounds crew members spent their Friday night building a wall around the bottom of the bullpen benches in foul territory.
LSU first baseman Greg Deichmann hit an inside-the-park grand slam in a 4-2 win over Rice last weekend in the NCAA Baton Rouge regional when a would-be double down the right field line rolled under the bullpen bench.
Officials decided Friday afternoon during the customary ground-rules walk-through to enclose the benches, nailing two wooden boards onto the bottom front portion of each bullpen bench.
To prevent a potential second occurrence, Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore and NCAA officials asked LSU coach Paul Mainieri if the benches could be enclosed.
“Paul (Mainieri) was like, ‘I don’t care,’” said Eddie Nunez, deputy director of athletics. “Our ground crew guys knocked it out overnight. They asked, ‘What do you want us to do?’ ‘Create a wall.’”
Right field foul territory came into play in Game 1 of Saturday’s super regional between the Tigers and the Chanticleers. In the fifth inning, officials gave Coastal Carolina second baseman Seth Lancaster a ground-rule double when a ball girl - sitting on the same wooden bullpen bench involved in Deichmann’s grand slam - picked up the fair ball thinking it was foul.
His screaming shot down the right field line hit just fair, and action stopped after the ball girl picked up the ball and then flipped it to a fan in the stands. The umpires huddled, and after a replay review, Lancaster was given second base. He scored moments later.
Last weekend, Deichmann’s bases-loaded, scorching shot Sunday against the Owls bounded under the bench after just hitting fair. It scored all four of the Tigers’ run, putting them in the driver’s seat of a regional they eventually won Tuesday.
Rice right fielder Charlie Warren attempted to retrieve the ball, unsuccessfully, from under the bench. Umpires first ruled Deichmann’s shot a two-run, ground-rule double. After a brief huddle, home play umpire Scott Kennedy signaled the home run call, and a packed Alex Box Stadium roared in celebration for a rare inside-the-park grand slam.
Deichmann’s shot hit a couple of feet into fair territory before rolling under the wooden bench. Warren knelt down before rising back up and throwing up his hands.
What he did next cost his team. The sophomore knelt to the ground again and reached under the bench – an attempt at retrieving the ball.
“If the ball goes under the bullpen bench and remains under the bench, the ball is dead,” reads LSU’s ground rules, “… unless the defensive player goes in to retrieve it.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.