In the span of three pitches on Tuesday night, sophomore Trent Vietmeier turned to watch two home runs speed over the wall.
LSU led by two runs in the eighth inning, but back-to-back homers off Vietmeier gave UL a 6-5 win in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Foundation Classic at Metairie.
Coach Paul Mainieri managed this game with seven injured pitchers and a looming series with No. 25 Florida on a short week.
Trying to preserve LSU’s staff, only two pitchers — Vietmeier and Will Ripoll, who gave up one run — threw more than an inning.
Sophomore infielder Hal Hughes injured his thumb, depleting the depth of LSU's infield.
When Vietmeier, the seventh pitcher used by No. 15 LSU (24-14), trotted to the mound, the Tigers held a 5-3 lead in the eighth inning.
Vietmeier had been one of LSU’s most reliable pitchers this season. Mainieri planned for him to pitch an inning, then give the ball to Devin Fontenot.
With one out and a runner on first base, Vietmeier gave up a home run to senior right fielder Orynn Veillon. The ball sailed over the left field wall, tying the game.
Vietmeier said he brushed off the first home run, knowing another batter would step into the box “whether I like it or not.”
Two pitches later, senior first baseman Handsome Monica hit another home run, and UL (20-20) took the lead.
LSU baseball may have 22 healthy players on its 35-man roster this week.
“I don't know why I couldn't hit my spots tonight,” Vietmeier said. “No reason in the world why I couldn't. Just one of those nights, I guess. Who knows.”
His voice dropped off for a second.
“One of those nights.”
Early walks upset Mainieri more than the two home runs. Walks plagued LSU as the Ragin’ Cajuns took a three-run lead. All three runners who scored reached base on walks.
LSU trailed until the fourth inning, when first baseman Cade Beloso approached the plate with two runners on base and one out. Down in a 1-2 count, Beloso ripped a line drive that faded toward the right field corner.
After losing three games last week, LSU baseball fell out of the top 10 in all but one poll.
As the ball clanked off the foul pole, the umpire crouched over the first base line raised one arm and twirled his hand, signaling a home run. Beloso stomped on home plate. He had tied the game.
“The wind helped it out a little bit,” Beloso said.
LSU needed someone to step up as it played without a third of its starting lineup.
The Tigers have searched for production from the bottom of their batting order throughout the season. The top of the lineup carried the offense. Then center fielder Zach Watson got hurt. So did third baseman Chris Reid and infielder Hal Hughes.
Against the Ragin’ Cajuns, LSU used a batting order that had one player batting over .300 before the game. Watson, Reid and Hughes watched from the dugout.
Wrapping up LSU baseball's series at Missouri.
An inning after Beloso tied the game, second baseman Brandt Broussard drove in a run. Then Beloso hit an RBI single. The Tigers held a two-run lead.
Until last weekend, Vietmeier had pitched well most of the season. He threw almost four scoreless innings against Mississippi State. He had given up only one home run — against Missouri in his last outing.
“I felt confident with Trent out there,” Mainieri said.
LSU baseball lost on Sunday, dropping its series at Missouri.
Vietmeier felt good warming up. His arm didn’t hurt. He just missed his spots, and the Ragin’ Cajuns hit back-to-back home runs.
When the second ball fell onto a grass field behind the left field wall, the Tigers felt frustration. Despite all their injuries, they positioned themselves to win.
Instead, UL retook the lead in about a minute, and LSU lost its third straight game.
“It's been a frustrating few days, but baseball is a funny game,” Beloso said. “You got to bounce back really quickly because our next game is in two days against a really good SEC team in Florida. We've got to come ready, or they're going to beat our butts.”