Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brenn Conrad skipped Bryce Jordan’s inning-ending ground ball into the bullpen, extending a fifth inning in which the LSU baseball team recaptured the lead it had lost minutes earlier.
Greg Deichmann followed, working the count in his favor before Hogan Harris fired a 3-1 fastball.
Deichmann launched it back up the middle for an RBI single — LSU’s fourth two-out hit of the night and the fifth run those hits drove in — to spur the Tigers to an 8-5 win against the Cajuns in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Classic on Tuesday at Zephyr Field.
“It was awesome,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “The wind was a much different wind tonight than it was this weekend; you have a different confidence.”
Two days after ending a windy Alabama series loss when it neglected to drive runners in and hit woefully with runners in scoring position, LSU cycled through three Cajuns pitchers, going 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position on a mild evening on which a slight wind blew out of the park.
Kramer Robertson and Jake Fraley had two doubles apiece at the top of the order, both of their third-inning efforts coming with two outs and erasing an early 1-0 deficit.
Robertson willed a soft, opposite-field liner inside the right-field foul line for an RBI double, scoring Brody Wofford, who took Cajuns starter Evan Guillory’s first fastball back up the middle for a single in his first at-bat as the Tigers’ starting designated hitter.
Two pitches later, Fraley blooped a sinking liner into left-center field to score Robertson.
“I said last week hitting is contagious,” Robertson said. “When there’s two outs, it’s important for your veterans to step up and I think Jake and I did that tonight. ULL’s always tough. We had some big clutch hits tonight, which we failed to do last week. It feels good and it’s going to give us a lot of confidence going into Thursday night (against Texas A&M).”
Guillory needed just three pitches to strike out Wofford in the fourth before the Tigers unleashed another two-out rally, sparked when Bryce Jordan scampered home on a wild pitch during Cole Freeman’s at-bat.
Freeman followed with a grounder through the left side, scoring Deichmann and Jordan Romero to give LSU a short-lived 5-1 lead.
Inserted in place of Hunter Devall one batter into the fifth, Russell Reynolds nearly evaded a massive jam, striking out Brenn Conrad and popping up Joe Robbins before cleanup hitter Steven Sensley crushed a full count offering over the right-field wall for a three-run homer, tying the game.
Then came Robertson and Fraley with doubles to lead off the home half of the inning, quickly getting LSU back ahead 6-5 before Beau Jordan drove Robertson in with a sacrifice fly.
“After this game,” Fraley joked, “I know when (Robertson) hits a double I got one coming right after … I feel like we punched back a little bit with that big hit. It was huge for us to be able to come back, put another guy in scoring position, get him in then string more together.”
Added Mainieri: “We came back and fired away again, got a couple clutch hits and really took charge of the ballgame for us.”
Making his first collegiate start after a resurgence with his velocity, Tigers starter Cole McKay held his fastball in the low 90s throughout a 41-pitch outing, striking out five of the nine hitters he faced while mixing in a low-70s breaking ball and a changeup with movement. His last pitch, which Alex Pinero waved at and missed to strand two in the second inning, came in at 90 mph.
“All of it felt good,” McKay said. “It took all of those pitches to get the strikeouts I needed. All of them worked off the fastball pretty well.”
After Reynolds’ troubles in the fifth, the LSU bullpen combined for four perfect innings, including five strikeouts. The Tigers notched 12 strikeouts on the evening and all pitchers used, aside from McKay, should be available when LSU opens its series against Texas A&M.