By: Jordan Taylor
Da Boot Sports!
BATON ROUGE: Baseball at the Box early addition! Happy Mardis Gras to all our readers! Geaux Tigers!
Stadium lights will not be required to wrap up this series today as both teams will step between the painted white lines for a 11:00 am first pitch. South Louisiana has played it’s tricks the last few days here at the box. Freezing on Friday night, then beautiful sky’s a day ago,and now a short sleeve cool breeze kinda Sunday morning.
The Tigers will look to win their second series of the season today as we are treated to a rubber match after both teams snagged a win this weekend.
LSU (4-3), will send Sophomore, AJ Labas to the rubber today to try and slow down a scrappy Colonels lineup. The Colonels (4-1), will send Junior, Jake Lewis to the mound to face a LSU line up still searching for an identity.
The Tigers will look to climb out of their hitting woes today in game three as they are ranked last in the SEC in team batting.
AJ Labas would take the ball from the head umpire and would quicly strike out the lead off man. Two pitches later he would get out number two on a fly out to left field. Out number three would come on a fly out to Cabrera in right field, for a three up-three down inning.
Paul Mainieri would continue to try to find a solid lineup. Zack Mathis would lead off for the Tigers and reach base after being hit by pitch. Alex Milazzo would reach first base on a fielder's choice, as the Colonels would take out the force out at second for out number one. Up next, Daniel Cabrera would come through with a single to right field. Great base running by Mathis would land him at third, setting up runners at the corners for Saul Garza. Garza would do his job and hit a liner straight to the center fielder, scoring Mathis for a RBI giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Cabrera would steal second base and it would pay off as Cade Beloso would blast a single to send him home. Eastern Kentucky Pitcher, Jake Lewis would force a pop up for the final out, as the fitst inning would end with LSU up, 2-0.
Labas would give up an infield single to the Colonels' lead off batter. Eastern Kentucky would then try a bunt. Alex Millazzo would fire down to second to get the lead runner. Drew Bianco would then make a play worthy of a Sports Center Top Ten highlight, as he would make a sensational catch, then would quickly get the ball in to double up the runner at first base to end the top of the second inning.
LSU unfortunately couldn't feed off the momentum of the double play, as they would go quickly in the bottom of the frame, three up-three down.
AJ Labas would go back to work in the third, getting the Eastern Kentucky batters out quickly, three up-three down, by forcing a ground out and fanning two. After three inings, Labas had only faced nine batters, striking out three, on only 26 pitches.
It would be back to the top of the order for the Tigers as team batting average leader, Zack Mathis would lead off with a single. Milazzo would follow and drive a single to right field to put two runners on with no outs. Three hits in a row is something this year's LSU team is unfamiliar with, as Cabrera drives a single to right field to load the bases. Saul Garza showed great patience at the plate and would draw a walk on five pitches, sending Mathis home for a 3-0 lead. With the bases still loaded and no outs, Beloso would bust the game wide open with a two RBI single to right field giving LSU a 5-0 lead. Beloso would take second on the throw. The hit parade would continue as Maurice Hampton Jr. would hit a RBI single to left field to increase the Tigers' lead and chase the Colonels starting pitcher. Hampton would safely steal second base, setting up Drew Bianco at the plate. The fireworks would continue as Bianco would reach safely on an error, that would also send two more runners home running the score to 8-0. LSU would plate on more run before Eastern Kentucky could register the final out to stop the bleeding, as we would go to the fourth with the Tigers holding a 9-0 lead.
Eastern Kentucky would manage to get the lead off batter on to start the fourth inning. But Labas would sit down the next three Colonels' batters to send us to the bottom of the inning.
Alex Milazzo would lead off the 4th for LSU and draw a walk. After Cabrera and Garza would both go down on strikes. Cade Beloso would rope a single to right center. The Tigers were able to take advantage of two errors on the play by Colonels' second baseman to add another run on the board. We would head to the fifth inning with LSU up, 10-0.
AJ Labas continued to pitch at a high level, during his second outing the year. He would quickly sit down the Eastern Kentucky batters in order, three up-three down.
Eastern Kentucky pitcher, Julian Jackson would manage to quietly get the Tigers out, three up-three down to send us to the sixth inning.
Labas would take the mound for his 6th inning of work. But would walk the lead off batter. After recording the first out of the inning, Nick Howie would drive a single into right field. With two runners, Labas would get his second out with a fly out to Hampton in center. AJ Lewis would step to the plate and rip a double down the right field line, scoring two runs for the Colonels. The top of the inning would end with the score, 10-2, LSU.
After Mathis and Travinski would both fail to reach base, Daniel Cabrera would walk. A wild pitch would send Cabrera into scoring position. Saul Garza would be unable to come up with a timely hit as Cabrera would be left on base to end the sixth.
Labas would show no sign of slowing down in the seventh inning, as Eastern Kentucky would go up and down in order. Labas' third three up-three down inning of the game.
Belso, who was 3-3 so far on the day, would walk on five pitches. Next would come a scary moment in the game, as Gavin Dugas would take a pitch in the head. Dugas, would need to leave the contest. Hal Hughes would step in to run in his place. The Tigers would leave the two runners on after three straight outs.
That would be it for AJ Labas after a stellar performance of going 7 innings, 4 Hits, 2 Runs, 1 BB, 6 K’S, on 76 pitches thrown. Brandon Kaminer would start the 8th inning for the Tigers and pick up where Labas left off, putting the Colonels' batters up and down in order, three up-three down.
The Tigers would send the top of the order to the plate. Mathis leads leadoff walk. Fly out to right field for out number one. Cabrera gets fooled and goes down swinging for out number one. Wild pitch moves the runner into scoring position. Garza is the victim for the third out as he goes down swinging.
Jacob Hasty would come into the game to get the final three outs of the game.
LSU would win the rubber match by the final score of 10-2, to go 5-3 on the season, while Eastern Kentucky falls to 4-2.
AJ Labas would earn the win (1-1)LP-Jake Lewis (1-1) LSU's offensive leader of the game would be Cade Beloso, as he went 3-3 with 3 RBIs.
Next up, the Tigers will host Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, February 26 at 6:30pm.