In a game that had long since stopped being compelling, LSU’s 22nd hit of the night, which brought home its 21st and 22nd runs of the game, momentarily got the few remaining LSU fans on their feet to cheer.
They were honoring sophomore left fielder Antoine Duplantis, who had just set LSU’s single-game record with six hits in Friday night’s 22-9 win over Georgia in the teams' Southeastern Conference opener in Alex Box Stadium.
“Honestly, I had no idea,” Duplantis said. “I went up there my last at-bat and said, ‘It would be pretty cool to get six hits.’ ”
By the time the sixth inning — during which Duplantis picked up two hits — had come to a close, he had tallied the 33rd five-hit game in LSU history. He was later joined by shortstop Kramer Robertson, who joined the five-hit club on his seventh plate appearance of the game, in the eighth inning.
Robertson had just a few minutes to enjoy his record-tying performance.
“I wanted to top Kramer,” Duplantis said.
The record-breaking hit from Duplantis came later in the eighth, when he ripped a sharp double down the right-field line. Each of Duplantis’ six hits drove in a run, and his two-run, record-breaking double gave him seven RBIs on the evening.
Since moving into the No. 3 spot in the lineup for the first game of the Wichita State series, Duplantis has gone 15 of 29 with 17 RBIs.
Duplantis may have gotten the record Friday, but Robertson had the last laugh. After the game, during Duplantis’ postgame interview, Robertson came up from behind and delivered a shaving-cream pie to Duplantis’ face. Robertson joked in Duplantis’ ear as he went to work.
“That’s what you get for getting the last hit,” Robertson said.
LSU (14-5, 1-0) went 22 of 41 and reached base 13 times via walk and hit by pitch. The Tigers had a whopping 39 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, and they either collected a base hit, drew a walk, were hit by a pitch or advanced a runner with a sacrifice bunt on 24 of those occasions. The only thing LSU didn’t do well offensively was hit with the bases loaded (1 of 7).
“I guess we just locked in,” Robertson said. “Sometimes you have nights like this. It’s weird. It’s a weird sport. It’s baseball.”
And the Tigers needed a strong night at the plate.
For the second time in his past three outings, LSU ace Alex Lange was hit hard. He was pulled after 4.2 innings, having allowed eight runs — seven earned — on eight hits and four walks.
"They were just on him," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.
The Bulldogs got after Lange right away, and they did so by blending some patience with some aggressiveness.
Lange walked a pair in the first inning, and both came back to haunt him. The first, leadoff batter Tucker Maxwell, wheeled around to score when Cam Shepherd hammered the first pitch he saw for a double to straight-away center.
The next walk, to cleanup hitter Michael Curry, opened the door for the big blow. With two outs, Georgia right-fielder Will Campbell drilled an 0-1 offering from Lange over the wall in left for a three-run homer, giving Georgia a quick 4-0 lead.
Though his teammates had his back, scoring eight runs in the next three innings to regain a commanding lead, Lange was never able to settle into a rhythm.
He gave up an unearned run in the third inning after a pair of rare passed balls by catcher Michael Papierski, then was knocked out of the game in the fifth after allowing four of the five batters he faced in the inning to reach base.
That allowed Georgia to cut the lead to 9-8 and suddenly make things interesting again. But junior right-hander Austin Bain (1-0) stabilized the game from that point.
“I’ve had two years of experience that kind of help me go through and stay calm in situations like that,” Bain said. “Going into it, my main goal is not to let Alex’s run on base score.”
Bain allowed just one run on four hits in 2.2 innings. LSU had his back offensively, too, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth and then breaking the game open with a seven-run sixth, during which it sent 13 players to the plate.
In a game in which the teams combined for 31 runs and 34 hits, freshman right-handers Matt Beck and Will Reese did the unexpected and fired two perfect innings to close the game.
The Tigers will go for the series win at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.