A game-winning home run from Cade Beloso. Effective debuts by pitchers Landon Marceaux and Jaden Hill. A two-run home run off Drew Bianco’s bat.
Throughout LSU baseball’s opening weekend, freshmen were integral to the Tigers’ undefeated start. And Tuesday, for the third straight game, LSU will start a freshman pitcher. This time, it's Cole Henry against Southeastern Louisiana.
“It's amazing to see how poised they have been,” sophomore third baseman Hal Hughes said.
LSU’s freshman class, which Baseball America ranked No. 1 in the country, made its first impression in the season opener against UL-Monroe. With LSU by one run in the top of the fourth inning, Bianco leaped to catch a line drive at first base, saving a run.
LSU pitcher Jaden Hill earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after allowing one run over five innings during his debut against Air Force.
The next day, Marceaux struck out the first batter he faced. He ended up allowing one run over 5⅔ innings. He struck out five batters, but he called his outing “shaky” because he allowed three walks. Chase Costello, another freshman, relieved Marceaux.
Costello allowed four runs the next inning, giving Army the lead. But with two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers trailing by two, Beloso hit a game-winning, three-run home run to right field. It was LSU’s first game-winner since Daniel Cabrera hit one last April against Tennessee.
Contributions from freshmen continued in Sunday's game. Pitcher Jaden Hill allowed one run over five innings. He struck out eight batters to earn SEC freshman of the week honors. The game was so lopsided, coach Paul Mainieri pulled him at 71 pitches.
Mainieri used almost all of his freshmen as LSU poured in more runs. Gavin Dugas, Giovanni DiGiacomo and Bianco all recorded their first hits, Bianco’s a two-run home run in the second inning. All but two freshmen — Will Ripoll and Easton McMurray, who’s unavailable with arm soreness — played by the end of Sunday’s win over Air Force.
Here are three things we learned from LSU's opening weekend of the 2019 baseball season.
Combined, LSU’s freshman hitters went 5 for 18 (.278) with two home runs and seven RBIs during the weekend. The pitchers tossed 16⅔ innings. They gave up 10 runs — one unearned.
“The more they play, the more confident they get, the more comfortable they get with the bright lights,” Mainieri said, “the more we can count on them.”
The last of three straight freshman starting pitchers comes Tuesday. Henry, a right-hander from Florence, Alabama, is described as a “power pitcher” on LSU’s website.
Freshman Cade Beloso belted a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to bring No. 1 LSU a 6-5 victory over Army Saturday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium.
He uses a mid-90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup. The Detroit Tigers drafted him in the 38th round of last year’s draft. He missed fall practice with arm soreness, but Henry pitched two-thirds of an inning in the season opener. He allowed one hit.
LSU’s freshmen are essential to the Tigers’ pursuit of a seventh national championship. They’re already showing why.
“The first four games of the season we’ll have three freshman starting pitchers, which is rather unique for a team ranked No. 1 in the country,” Mainieri said, “but I think it’s a demonstration on how high I am on those three freshmen.”