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LSU Baseball

Big pitching moments keep LSU alive

June 2, 2024

LSU is two-thirds of the way through the losers’ bracket to a NCAA regional tournament championship.

The Tigers won two games at the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Regional on Sunday – first eliminating Wofford 13-6 and then handing North Carolina its first tournament loss 8-4.

A quick look at the two scores would seem to indicate that the LSU bats carried the day. In the game against the Terriers, the Tigers collected 21 hits as they came back from a 5-0 first-inning deficit. Eight players had at least two hits.

In the victory against the Tar Heels, LSU jumped out to an 8-1 by the end of the fifth inning. Josh Pearson and Hayden Travinski hit home runs, while Steven Milam had a two-run single. Michael Braswell and Tommy White also had run-scoring hits.

After struggling at the plate in their first two regional games, the Tigers responded with a huge offensive day with their margin for error gone.

However, the credit for the two LSU victories must go to the pitching staff. Five pitchers came through in clutch situations for the Tigers.

In the victory over Wofford, LSU coach Jay Johnson replaced starter Nate Ackenhausen with Griffin Herring before the end of the first inning. Herring did allow a two-run single which put the Tigers in a 5-0 hole.

But, Griffin then shut down the Terriers while the LSU hitters came alive. Herring gave up just one run from the second through the seventh inning. When Herring left the game, the Tigers had a comfortable 11-6 lead. Herring’s outing gave LSU time to stage a rally.

Johnson went with Thatcher Hurd as the starter against North Carolina. A postseason star a year ago, Hurd found himself deep down on the staff due to his ineffectiveness this season. But, Hurd gave the Tigers more than anyone could have expected against the Tar Heels.

Hurd retired the first 11 UNC hitters – five by strikeout. By that time, LSU had a 3-0 lead due to Pearson’s home run and Braswell’s RBI single. Hurd illustrated what Tigers pitchers were going to accomplish in the North Carolina fourth.

The Tar Heels finally got on the board with three two-out hits. With the tying runs on base, Hurd ended the inning with a strikeout. Hurd was then joined by his fellow hurlers to close out innings with runners on base.

In the sixth, Hurd wild pitched home a run which left LSU on top 8-2. A walk by Justin Loer, the one reliever who did not do the job, filled the bases. Fidel Ulloa prevented UNC from getting closer by recording an inning-ending strikeout.

Ulloa issued two walks to start the seventh. This time, freshman Kade Anderson delivered the big pitch. After allowing a two-run single, Anderson ended the threat with a pop up to first baseman Jared Jones. So, the Tigers still had a four-run advantage.

The Tar Heels put two runners on base off Anderson in the eighth. It was time for Gavin Guidry to put out the fire. Guidry ended the inning with a strikeout.

Guidry made things interesting in the ninth as UNC loaded the bases with a single and a pair of walks. Needing two outs to preserve the lead, Guidry closed things out with a strikeout and a fly out. 

To stay alive in the losers’ bracket, a team needs numerous heroes. The Tigers had a long list of hitters doing that job in the two games. But, no LSU batter was more important than what its pitchers did Sunday.

For the eighth time since this format was adopted in 1999, the Tigers will be involved in a winner-take-all regional final game. LSU has a 5-2 record in such games – going 4-1 at home with the lone defeat coming against Houston in 2014.

For the third time in the last four seasons, the Tigers will be playing a decisive game seven in a road regional Monday. LSU beat Oregon 9-8 in 2021 – Paul Mainieri’s final year as coach. Then, the Tigers lost to USM 8-7 in 2022 – Johnson’s first year as coach.

A home super-regional series will be the reward for Monday’s LSU-UNC winner since both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds from the Tucson Regional have been eliminated. Johnson will be looking for big-time performances from multiple players once again.


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LSU Nike Rise Structured Trucker Cap

from: Alumni Hall

Tags: Baseball
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