As Alex Bregman’s screaming line drive began to fall in the left-center gap, LSU coach Paul Mainieri figured it for a double at worst.
At best? Maybe an inside-the-park home run if the ball bounded past a diving Yale center fielder, the coach said.
The dive did the trick.
Green Campbell’s highlight reel grab stole the hit and kept the tying run from scoring, ending the eighth inning.
Campbell, a junior, is a Shreveport native who grew up wanting to play for the Tigers.
Afterward, a group of 30 family and friends chanted his name. He smiled through near tears.
“It’s the best feeling in my life,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Campbell finished 2-for-3, scoring two runs in Yale’s stunning 8-7 win over LSU on Sunday at Alex Box Stadium.
Forget his success at the plate. Campbell’s grab in left-center may have been the play of the game.
Yale led 8-7 with two outs and the speedy Mark Laird at second base. Bregman smacked the ball for what appeared to be a sure RBI hit.
Campbell, in a full-out dive, got the out instead.
“I didn’t think I was going to get there, and God gave me some burst of speed and I made it,” he said. “It was unbelievable.”
LSU’s dugout erupted when the ball left Bregman’s bat.
“When Bregman hit that ball,” Mainieri said, “nobody had any doubt the ball was going to fall and we had a tie ballgame.”
After the game, Campbell emerged from the Yale dugout to chants of “Greeeeen, Greeeeen, Greeeeen!” from the crew of family and friends.
“I wanted to be a Tiger my whole life,” he said. “Growing up, I was a huge LSU fan, and I went up to Yale and it’s been a blessing to be able to come back down here in front of my family and friends and play.”
LSU’s top-10 ranked freshman class has shined in the first two weeks of the season.
On Sunday, it produces two blemishes.
Reliever Parker Bugg and pinch-runner Jake Fraley, both freshmen, made a couple of costly errors in the loss.
Bugg’s error on a throw to first in the eighth inning plated Yale’s eventual winning run, and Fraley was thrown out trying to make it from first to third on a single to left.
“When you put rookies in the game, they have to learn from those things,” Mainieri said.
With a man on third, Bugg scooped up Nate Adams’ short dribbler and hummed it just wide of the bag. The ball hit first baseman Tyler Moore’s glove and allowed the runner from third to score.
Bugg allowed a bunt single to start the inning.
“He’s got to be able to throw the ball to first base,” Mainieri said. “I couldn’t tell if it was a poor throw or if Moore should have caught the ball. You’d like to think we can make that play.”
Fraley made the read to try for third base on Christian Ibarra’s single through the hole. But he hesitated while rounding second, Mainieri said.
LSU coaches tell players to take the risk and try for third with one out, the coach said.
“He’s got the speed. I was happy he went,” Mainieri said. “But that slight hesitation cost him.”
Andrew Stevenson extended his hitting streak to nine games Sunday by going 2-for-4. Laird extended his hitting streak to five games with a single in the first. … Bregman has reached base safely in all 11 games this season. ... Conner Hale’s streak of nine straight games reaching base safely came to an end. He was 0-for-5. … Ibarra was 3-for-3 and drove in a run.