Da Boot Sports
By: David Penn
HATTIESBURG, MS - LSU used the same formula in its second game in Hattiesburg with host Southern Miss as it did with Kennesaw State, chasing the starting pitcher with enough time to beat up on the relieving pitchers.
This time the Tigers worked their magic in the bottom of the ninth. Trailing 6-2, LSU roared back scoring four runs to tie the game, forcing extra innings before winning in walk off fashion in the tenth frame when Josh Pearson hit into a bases-loaded fielder’s choice that scored Jacob Berry.
Hurston Waldrep pitched the first 6.2 innings for the Golden Eagles and was excellent, but when his pitch count exceeded 100 pitches, the Tigers were able to begin touching him up. Waldrep left the game after firing 119 pitches.
Ty Floyd started for the Bayou Bengals and pitched the first six innings, allowing four runs on six hits with no walks and seven Ks. Floyd being able to give LSU six quality innings was huge in that it set up the Tigers’ bullpen to be able to go the distance and limit USM the rest of the way to a pair of runs.
Jacob Hasty drew the first middle relief assignment, pitching one inning, giving up no hits, one run, while walking two and striking out two.
Trent Veietmier would pitch the next two innings allowing one run on one hit, walking one and striking out four.
Paul Gervase again earned the closing assignment, allowing no runs or hits, and striking out one in the tenth inning, retiring the Golden Eagles in order.
LSU started off the scoring in the first inning when Tre’ Morgan hit an RBI single that scored Dylan Crews.
Southern Miss answered in the second frame with a two run shot by Will McGillis to give Southern Miss a 2-1 advantage.
In the home half of the second inning, Tyler McManus blasted his eleventh homerun of the season to tie the game at
2-2. Waldrep then settled in from the third inning on and pitched well for the Golden Eagles.
USM would score a run in the fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth inning to give the Golden Eagles a 6-2 advantage heading into the ninth inning.
Dylan Crews would start the ninth inning rally with a solo homerun, his 22nd of the season, cutting the lead to 6-3. Cade Doughty would follow up with a two run blast that brought home Josh Pearson and closed the gap to 6-5. Tre' Morgan would then reach on a single. Coach Jay Johnson would put Drew Bianco in to pinch run for Morgan who stole second on a great read on a passed ball. Jordan Thompson tied the game on an RBI single that scored Drew Bianco. Southern Miss would retire the side on a double play that would send the game into the tenth inning.
Paul Gervase set the tone in the top of the tenth by retiring the Golden Eagles in quick fashion and the LSU hitters were ready to do the improbable, becoming just the second team since the super regional format to complete two comebacks after being down after seven innings.
McManus got the Tigers started with a single before Josh Stevenson would take one for the team, being hit by a pitch, to give LSU runners on first and second. Crews would load the bases up, drawing a walk for the Tigers which would also earn the Tigers a pitching change from USM.
Next, Jacob Berry would hit into a fielder’s choice as USM would gun Collier Cranford, who was pinch running for McManus, out at home plate. The bases were still loaded with the game still tied at 6-6. With one out, LSU's Josh Pearson entered the batter’s box. Pearson uncorked a high hopper that wouldn’t fall in time for USM to make the play at home plate as Stevenson would slide safely to give LSU the 7-6 walk off victory.
LSU will await the winner of Sunday afternoon's elimination game between Southern Miss and Kennesaw State. The survivor will play the Tigers at 6:00pm CT.
The road to a Super Regional becomes much easier for LSU. Win one more game and move on. For host Southern Miss and Kennesaw State the challenge is much more daunting as they will now have to win three games to moving on.
LSU fans will be keeping an eye on the Coral Gables regional to see if host Miami wins or loses. If Miami fails to win its regional, it will set up LSU to host the Super Regional at Alex Box Stadium.