The rally started with a pinch-hit single. It continued with a pinch-hit bunt from a player who was not on the team when preseason practice began. It ended on a bloop single that somehow scored a run.
LSU trailed for much of Tuesday’s game against Southeastern Louisiana (0-4), but the Tigers pieced together a game-winning rally in the eighth inning at Alex Box Stadium to win 6-5 and remain undefeated.
With the game tied at 5 in the eighth inning and LSU (4-0) struggling to produce anything, coach Paul Mainieri inserted freshman Giovanni DiGiacomo as a pinch hitter for designated hitter Saul Garza.
"I wasn't pleased with the at-bats the other guys were having," Mainieri said. "I thought, 'Well, let's give somebody else a chance.'"
LSU baseball's game Wednesday at Northwestern State has been postponed to March 12.
DiGiacomo hit a leadoff single before he stole second base. As DiGiacomo batted, senior infielder Chris Reid, who returned to the team at the beginning of February, threw in the LSU bullpen — not to pitch, but to loosen his body.
In class until an hour before the 4 p.m. first pitch — LSU moved the game up two hours because of incoming storms — Reid took 20 swings off a tee before the game started. He didn’t throw or warm up beforehand.
“Coach made me go to class,” said Reid, who hit for freshman Drew Bianco. “When I got up there I had to let my instincts take over.”
On the third pitch of the at-bat, Reid squared around to bunt. The ball dribbled down the third base line, advancing DiGiacomo. Reid tripped over the first base bag as he was thrown out.
“Got my foot tied up with the bag and lost that battle,” Reid said. “I did the job.”
Southeastern brought in its infield for the next hitter, Brock Mathis. The sophomore catcher wanted to hit a sacrifice fly. Instead, he dropped a popup into shallow left field. Southeastern’s shortstop turned and sprinted, but the ball fell to the ground. DiGiacomo scored. LSU led for the first time since the fourth inning.
LSU baseball's freshmen were integral to the Tigers' undefeated opening weekend, and Tuesday, the Tigers will start their third-straight freshman pitcher in Cole Henry.
The Tigers fell into an early deficit as freshman pitcher Cole Henry gave up four runs (three unearned) during his first start. With a climbing pitch count, Henry’s outing lasted 2⅔ innings.
He left the field after issuing his third walk of the game, the bases loaded behind him. He threw 80 pitches.
“Just one of those games,” Henry said. “Got to flush it, come back next week and get better.”
Southeastern took a 5-4 lead into the seventh inning. LSU’s offense stalled for much of the game. After an energetic opening weekend, the players didn't return to the ballpark until Tuesday. Mainieri said LSU’s coaches didn’t prepare the players well enough.
“Our approach at the plate was not very good,” Mainieri said.
At the beginning of the seventh inning, the team found some semblance of energy when Josh Smith got hit in the mouth by a fastball.
“When he got hit in the mouth,” Mainieri said, “I saw our whole season going down the drain.”
Blood speckled Smith’s lips, but he jogged to first base. An athletic trainer examined him for a concussion. Smith, who ended the game with a .625 batting average, passed the concussion test and shoved his helmet back on his head. The moment elicited cheers from the players in the dugout.
Smith advanced to third when the next batter, Brandt Broussard, bunted. Southeastern pitcher Trey Shaffer threw the ball away, and LSU ended up with runners on second and third with no outs. Smith scored, tying the game, when Antoine Duplantis grounded out.
The Tigers' pinch hitters pieced together a run to take the lead in the next inning, and closer Todd Peterson ended the game with 98 mph fastballs.
"I don't think we have the perfect team," Mainieri said. "There's going to be some tinkering."