Brennan Breaux had 20 collegiate at-bats when he arrived at Alex Box Stadium on Saturday. He had one base hit. He was his team’s third left fielder.
He was a hero.
As was a fat-lipped Kramer Robertson.
And an opossum that delayed play in the seventh inning as it roamed left field? It was the impetus for an eccentric evening that redefines what people around this program call “Alex Box magic.”
Saturday night, that all added up to a 10-9, 10-inning Southeastern Conference victory over Arkansas — after the Tigers trailed 9-1 in the fifth and 9-5 heading to the bottom of the ninth — in a game that lasted 5 hours, 2 minutes.
“This is almost indescribable,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.
After stranding the bases loaded in the first, second and sixth innings, LSU broke through in a bases-loaded ninth as chants of “Rally possum!? filled an otherwise empty Alex Box Stadium while the Tigers trailed 9-5.
Even former Miami star Robbie Morrison, the pitcher who gave up Warren Morris’ dramatic, two-run homer in the 1996 College World Series championship game, was won over, clapping as the rally unfolded. Morrison will throw out the first pitch — to Morris — before Sunday’s game.
Robertson, who took a relay throw off the lip in the fifth and played with it severely swollen throughout the game, laced a single to load the bases with no out after Cody Scroggins booted Antoine Duplantis’ and Jake Fraley’s grounders to lead off the inning.
Chris Reid ran out a dribbler down the third-base line for an infield single to score Duplantis before Breaux, the third LSU left fielder of the game, put a full-count double into the left-center field gap to score two, raising his hands in jubilation as he stood on second base.
“Just seeing it well,” Breaux said. “Trusting my preparation that I had all week. Sometimes you just see it well and at that point you just trust your preparation, trust the swings that you’ve taken in batting practice, go out there and execute.”
Greg Deichmann chased Reid home with a sacrifice fly to tie the score, forcing extra innings. Robertson beat out an infield single in the 10th, sending Fraley to third. Arkansas attempted to backpick him and the throw got away, allowing the winning run to score.
“I didn’t even know Eagan threw it,” Fraley said. “All I saw was him rear back, then the dude flipped over me and I saw him take off for the ball, so I took off for home.”
Added Robertson: “That was about as insane a game as you’ll ever see.”
How’d Breaux find himself in this spot?
Beau Jordan, the starter, was benched after a first-inning blunder that put his team in a hole.
His backup, Brody Wofford, rode the pine after he struck out three times. A routine pop fly also fell at his feet to cap a fifth inning when four unearned runs scored and made the score 9-1.
With Luke Bonfield aboard after a walk, Carson Shaddy singled to left field off Tigers starter Jared Poché in the first.
Jordan, who took a pitch off the wrist in Friday’s 5-4 win and did not play defense in the eighth or ninth, threw into third base. It allowed Shaddy to take an extra base and get into scoring position.
Both Bonfield and Shaddy scored on Jake Arledge’s two-strike single a batter later, spotting Arkansas a 2-0 lead. Mainieri sent Wofford to warm up along the first-base line immediately following Jordan’s throw.
Once back in the dugout, Mainieri and Jordan had a spirited exchange that ended when Fraley pulled Jordan away from the coach. Jordan remained in the dugout, though Wofford pinch-hit for him later in the inning, striking out with the bases loaded and two outs.
It was the first of three punchouts, the last came with two on and no outs in the fifth. The two runners eventually scored on consecutive RBI singles from Deichmann and Freeman for LSU’s first two runs.
Breaux entered in the sixth, collecting a career-high three hits.
“I was so happy for Brennan,” Mainieri said. “He’s been waiting all year, and I keep talking to him, telling him his time is going to come: ‘You have to stay ready, stay ready, stay ready.’ ”
LSU, which came into Saturday’s game with 74 fewer strikeouts than any of its conference foes, fanned a season-high 15 times while Arkansas battered its pitching staff for nine runs in the first five innings, handing Poché his worst regular-season start as a collegian.
One week after surrendering five doubles in a four-inning outing against Ole Miss, Poché got the hook after allowing five consecutive hits to begin the second inning, lasting 1.1 innings — the shortest regular-season start of his career.
After fanning the game’s first two hitters, Poché recorded two more outs, one coming on Wofford’s 7-2 putout at home plate after the Razorbacks’ second double of the second inning.
Doug Norman, Austin Bain and Riley Smith steadied the otherwise shaky staff, permitting just one earned run in the next eight innings before Russell Reynolds escaped a two-out jam in the 10th.
Bain, Smith and Reynolds teamed for five innings of scoreless, three-hit baseball.
The team mobbed Fraley behind home plate as he scored. Robertson was forced, shirtless, to a television interview as his lip impeded speech. Bain and Alex Lange doused him with an ice bath shortly thereafter.
“A lot of teams would lay down after that,” Robertson said. “But we never stopped fighting.”
Added Mainieri: “We ended up with a win we’ll never forget.”