Da Boot Sports
By: David Penn
FAYETTEVILLE, AK - The defensive miscues continue to plague the 2022 LSU Tigers (27-10, 7-6). The Tigers were mounting a rally against Arkansas (26-7, 9-4) and had seized the lead late in the game, but failing to turn routine plays allowed Arkansas to plate the needed runs to survive the first game of the series and notch a win.
Ma’Khail Hilliard started for LSU and gave the Tigers five innings of work and limited one of the SEC’s best offenses to just two runs, as the first scored on a defensive mishap in the first inning and the second was a base loaded walk. Hilliard allowed three hits, two runs (one earned), walked four and struck out five batters.
Coach Jay Johnson would go to the bullpen in the sixth and five more pitchers would take the mound for the Tigers. Riley Cooper (2-2) took the loss on the evening, striking out three, but allowing two hits and two runs.
Johnson said, “Our pitchers executed the way they’re supposed to, but we didn’t give them the support they needed.”
The offense did its job, helping apply pressure to the team currently atop the West standings. Jacob Berry, Cade Doughty, and Josh Pearson all had RBIs in the sixth inning to give LSU a 3-2 lead.
Berry would get another RBI single in the eighth, but Arkansas turned a double play with the bases loaded to get out of the jam and end LSU’s threat of retaking the lead.
Connor Noland started for the Razorbacks and fanned seven Tigers, but after blanking LSU on the scoreboard for the first 5.2 innings, Noland gave up three runs in the sixth.
Evan Taylor would come on in the seventh and fan three more Tigers, allowing a run in the eighth before ace closer Brady Tygart would earn the final six outs Arkansas needed to finish the game.
As has been the story many times this season, it was errors and miscues on the field that cost LSU a win.
“We’ve got to play better, if we handle the baseball, we win tonight." Johnson said. "We’re working extremely hard at it; we’ve got to be aggressive and do a better job on defense.” The Tigers gave up the go ahead runs in the seventh inning.
LSU will face off against Arkansas on Friday at 5:00pm CT at Baum-Walker Stadium for game two of the series, hoping to earn a win and force a rubber match on Saturday in order to keep within striking distance of the Razorbacks in the standings.