Ex-LSU football player Jared Foster pumps up Tigers, powers baseball team in wins over Boston College _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU third baseman Danny Zardon (27) celebrates with LSU shortstop Alex Bregman (8) and other teammates after hitting a home run into left center field in the sixth inning, Friday, Feb. 20, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

Jared Foster’s return to football last fall didn’t work out too well.

He’s not too bad at this baseball thing.

Foster slammed the first pitch he saw Friday night down the left-field line for his first career triple. He landed at third base, glared toward the LSU dugout and roared, his arms flexed by his sides.

He’s back, Alex Box Stadium.

“I got pretty pumped up over there,” Foster quipped afterward.

Foster continued his early-season success at the plate, barreling two extra-base hits in the nightcap as LSU swept Boston College in a doubleheader, winning 8-3 and 7-4 on Friday at Alex Box.

The Tigers (5-1) got their first doubleheader sweep in five years — a perfect way to follow Wednesday’s stunning loss to Nicholls State. They were able to muster enough offense to negate struggles from a pair of starting pitchers, and the bullpen pitched a scoreless 7.1 innings between the two games.

“I don’t want to say it makes up for losing the game on Wednesday,” coach Paul Mainieri said, “but from a records standpoint, you finish off the weekend series, and it makes it a little easier to accept it over the long haul.”

Foster had that triple and an RBI double in the nightcap, and Andrew Stevenson scored twice while Chris Chinea brought home two more runs. In the 8-3 afternoon win over the Eagles (2-4), third baseman Danny Zardon smacked three extra-base hits and drove in three runs.

Starting pitchers Jared Poché, in Game 1, and freshman Alex Lange, in Game 2, allowed a combined 12 hits and seven runs in 10.2 innings, and LSU trailed in both games at points.

The Tigers needed a three-run fifth inning in Game 2 to overcome a 4-2 deficit. They got RBI doubles from Foster and Mark Laird, and Laird scored on a wild pitch to give LSU a 5-4 lead and send the partly filled stadium roaring to life.

LSU’s bullpen held the rest of the way to secure a second straight weekend series victory.

In relief of Lange, Parker Bugg threw two innings of shutout ball and survived a pair of jams. With LSU clinging to one- and two-run leads, Bugg allowed the leadoff man on in the sixth and seventh before retiring the next three in each frame.

“We always just try to go out and put up zeros, whether we’re up 10, down 10 or it’s a one-run game,” Bugg said. “That’s the best mentality for us to have.”

Alden Cartwright sat down three of his four batters, and closer Jesse Stallings retired three of his four to clinch a long-awaited sweep.

The Tigers swept a doubleheader for the first time since doing it against Tenneessee in 2010. They had played six doubleheaders during that stretch and were swept against Vanderbilt and Florida in 2014.

“We had our issues with doubleheaders last year,” Bugg said. “So to be on the winning side of one is nice. It should set us up well tomorrow.”

LSU and Boston College (2-4) meet in the series finale at 3 p.m. Saturday. They played a Friday doubleheader because of the threat of thunderstorms Sunday.

The bullpen hung tough in Game 1, too.

The Tigers got 1.1 innings of shutout ball from Zac Person, who, like Bugg, survived some pressure-packed moments. Sidewinder Collin Strall retired three of his four batters, and Cartwright closed that game, retiring all three hitters.

LSU six relievers over the two games had nine strikeouts and allowed just five hits.

“We always expect (the bullpen) to do the job,” Mainieri said. “You can see Alan Dunn and the way he brings those guys along. When you call on them, they’re all ready to do the job.”

The starting pitching Friday had its rocky moments — a far cry from the sparkling season debuts of Poché and Lange last week against Kansas.

In Game 2, Lange (2-0, 3.60) threw a whopping nine strikeouts through five innings, but he allowed five hits and three runs — most of the damage coming in Boston College’s three-run fifth inning. The Eagles batted eight in the frame.

Lange, a hard-throwing right-handed rookie, allowed back-to-back singles and then back-to-back walks in the inning. He walked in a run and allowed a two-run single. The inning began by Lange striking out BC shortstop Johnny Adams, but Adams took first base on a third strike wild pitch.

Lange threw four wild pitches in the game. Freshman Mike Papierski — not veteran Kade Scivicque — caught.

“It’s a good learning experience,” Lange said of that fifth frame. “I’ve got to be able to execute a couple more pitches and keep that to a one-run inning.”

Foster, a senior, stole the spotlight from the rookie. A football walk-on his freshman season, he rejoined the football team as a backup quarterback last fall only to get injured.

He reached base in four of his five trips to the plate, including that first-pitch triple to open the game.

“If they’re going to throw me a fastball anywhere, I try to hit it hard,” he said. “Fortunately enough he did it and I put a good swing on it.”

Mainieri added: “Foster likes that first pitch, and he can do damage with it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he hit the first one off the scoreboard.”

In two starts, Foster has four hits — two doubles, a single and that triple. He had seven hits all of last year during a rocky season that started with him flopping as the Tigers’ cleanup hitter.

In the first game, Zardon had three extra-base hits — his total from all of the 2014 season — and the Tigers got run-scoring hits from Laird, Andrew Stevenson and freshman Beau Jordan.

It was a big game for Zardon, a sophomore in his first year starting who has the all-important job of replacing Christian Ibarra, whom Mainieri calls the best defensive third baseman he’s ever coached.

Zardon shined at the plate and in the field while LSU’s starter struggled.

Poché said he “didn’t have my ‘A’ game.”

Poché (2-0, 1.54) allowed seven hits, tied for the most in a regular-season start, and had two throwing errors, a balk and walked three. He allowed three runs, two earned, in a 93-pitch outing that lasted 5.2 innings.

Mainieri and hitting coach Andy Cannizaro shook up the batting order after LSU went 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position against the Colonels on Wednesday. Bregman, who went 2-for-8 Friday, moved from the No. 2 hole to No. 3 in both games. Foster led off in the second game, something that might be a mainstay.

“I’m just doing whatever I can to help the team out,” said Foster, who hadn’t bat leadoff since 2013. “Whoever plays plays. It was good to go out there and do that.”

Lawrence Barreca contributed to this report. Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.