Impaired by an announced crowd of 10,851 at Alex Box Stadium in Tuesday night’s 7-1 loss to Tulane, LSU third baseman Greg Deichmann said he couldn’t hear whether catcher Mike Papierski told him to cut the throw off from the outfield.
Tulane had already scored its third run on the second-inning sacrifice fly. Deichmann leaped and snagged Beau Jordan’s throw, firing it to second baseman Cole Freeman.
“I thought I had a shot at a back pick,” Deichmann said. “Kind of how the night went, (it) ended up in center field.”
Another run scored on the throw, putting Tulane up 5-0, but a quick strike to third base mercifully ended the first two innings of a game coach Paul Mainieri thought his team was prepared to play.
“We took a day off Sunday, practiced yesterday, everybody felt that they were fired up,” Mainieri said. “It was just one of those nights where everything just went as poorly as it can possibly go. I thought we were ready, but obviously we weren’t ready to play tonight.”
After retiring his first two hitters with relative ease, Tigers starter Cole McKay threw 16 of his next 17 pitches for balls, walking the bases loaded before a fourth, and final, walk to Hunter Hope ended his evening in favor of Collin Strall and forced in the game’s first run.
“Started the game off negatively, there’s no real excuses for it,” McKay said. “Arm felt great before the game, during the game. I felt like I could go long, but unfortunately just couldn’t find the zone there at the end.”
Strall would surrender the sacrifice fly, that coming after a two-RBI single from Jake Rogers — a scorched grounder right to Deichmann at third base that was too hot to handle.
“Those first two or three innings were as bad a baseball as we’ve played as far as I can remember,” Mainieri said. “As far as the pitching and defense on the left side, I haven’t seen anything like that in a long, long time. I was trying to reflect back when we played so poorly for two or three innings to start a game. And obviously the pitching set the tone.”
It was the Green Wave’s first win in Baton Rouge since 2007, capped off on Jake Willsey’s towering solo home run in the eighth inning that left the stadium entirely in left field.
LSU committed three errors and produced just seven hits — three of which came in a futile ninth-inning rally that prevented it from being shut out by a non-conference opponent for the first time since 2012.
“There’s no excuse for the offense we displayed tonight,” Mainieri said. “We just couldn’t get anything going against those guys.”
Before the ninth inning, LSU had just one inning where it produced consecutive hits — a fourth inning uprising where, down 5-0, Jordan Romero and Greg Deichmann slapped one-out singles to load the bases with one out.
Bryce Adams bounced the ball near the middle of the field. He was inserted into Tuesday’s lineup for his pop in an LSU lineup bereft of it. His teammates and coaches spent an hour on Monday preaching that, no, this struggling batting order doesn’t try to do too much.
“We talk all the time about ‘We don’t need a ball to the gap, we don’t need a ball over the fence. All we’re looking for is contact,’” hitting coach Andy Cannizaro said Monday. “We just need you to put a ball in play.”
Adams obliged. Tulane shortstop Stephen Alemais ranged to his left and dove for the baseball, flipping it behind his back without looking at second baseman Jake Willsey covering the bag.
Willsey caught the flip, firing to first to get Adams by a step, sending the Green Wave dugout onto the field in roaring celebration of a 6-4-3 double play that ended the Tigers scoring threat.
Mainieri and Kramer Robertson, one of the team’s lone veterans, spent five minutes in conversation inside a morose Tigers dugout after the team abandoned its usual on-field postgame meeting.
“I have to come out here and lead by example,” Robertson sad. “I have to set the tone, it’s my job to set the tone. I have to come out here and be ready to play and get these guys going.”
— Follow Chandler Rome on Twitter, @Chandler_Rome.