BATON ROUGE, La. — Finally, a razor will make contact with Jared Poché’s upper lip.
The LSU senior’s remarkable streak of 32 consecutive innings without allowing a run — a feat topped only by Ben McDonald in the school record book — ended Saturday night when Georgia junior Keegan McGovern deposited an 0-1 pitch into the right field bleachers to lead off the fourth inning.
The crowd of 11,327 at Alex Box Stadium gave Poché a standing ovation as McGovern rounded the bases. The Georgia run was just a bump in the road for the Tigers, who went on to win 5-1.
Poché was initially enraged by what he perceived as support for a visiting home run, then slowly realized what was actually happening.
“It kind of ticked me off a little bit,” Poché said. “They’re cheering a home run hit off of me? And then it sank in. I realized what they were clapping for. That was definitely a first for me.”
Poché went 7 innings, scattering 7 Georgia hits and striking out 5. Poché has pitched at least 7 innings in all five of his starts, and Saturday’s effort was much appreciated after LSU went deep into its bullpen Wednesday and Friday nights.
The end of Poché’s streak will be felt most acutely by fans of facial hair. Poché had permission from coach Paul Mainieri to continue growing a mustache as long as he did not allow a run this season. However, the wispy ‘stache did not quite have the splendor of a Rollie Fingers handlebar.
As Mainieri put it prior to Poché’s last start, “It’s the most ugly, unattractive mustache I’ve ever seen.”
Poché respectfully disagreed with the analysis.
“It was a good run,” he said. “I had a lot of great memories with it.”
Duplantis continues to swing hot bat
Georgia pitching is like a Thanksgiving feast for Antoine Duplantis.
The sophomore outfielder set an LSU single-game record for hits Friday night by going 6-for-6. He somehow found a way to top himself Saturday, hitting his first home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Duplantis hit two homers as a freshman last season.
He added a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth to break the game open.
Duplantis’ RBI base-hit was the culmination of a 10-pitch battle that chased Bulldogs starter Tony Locey out of the game. Locey walked the bases loaded and was 3-0 on Duplantis before finally throwing a strike. Duplantis proceeded to foul off five straight pitches until getting something he liked.
Duplantis is 8-for-10 with 10 RBIs against the Bulldogs this weekend.
“I’ve never had a weekend like this,” Duplantis said. “That’s just the way baseball is. I’m not doing much of anything different. I’m taking the same approaches and trying to do what is needed at the time.”
LSU turned three double plays behind Poché.
The most crucial came with Poché on the ropes in the sixth. The Bulldogs loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, setting up Will Campbell for a one-out RBI opportunity. But Campbell bounced it to second baseman Cole Freeman, who flipped to Kramer Robertson for the first out. First baseman Jake Slaughter grabbed a wide throw from Robertson, just barely keeping his foot on the bag as he stretched for the catch and the twin killing.
Georgia also grounded into double plays in the first and second innings, both of which were started by Freeman.
Showing Deichmann respect
Defensive shifts are all the rage in the big leagues these days, and LSU slugger Greg Deichmann got a taste of what life at that level might be like against the Bulldogs.
Georgia used an extremely exaggerated shift against Deichmann, with only the third baseman and left fielder lined up to the left side of second base. It didn’t get the Dawgs any extra outs, though. Deichmann was 1-for-3 with two called strikeouts.
As you can see, UGA giving Greg Deichmann the David Ortiz treatment. pic.twitter.com/mimoDdzsaC
— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) March 19, 2017
The Bulldogs have shifted against Deichmann in both games, but their pitching plan has been rather befuddling given that strategy.
“They’re throwing me away this whole series, so I’m just going to try and go that way with it,” Deichmann said. “I’m going to try and beat the shift if they put it out there.”
Jamal Adams throws a strike
It appears Jamal Adams is a Poché fan. Ceremonial first pitches can get a bit haywire, but the all-SEC safety fired his over the plate before the game. Adams is widely expected to the a Top-10 pick in next month’s NFL Draft.
Former LSU safety (Future Bear?) Jamal Adams fires the first pitch before Saturday night’s game against UGA. pic.twitter.com/UqUtcsxgQa
— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) March 18, 2017
It went so well that Adams may be having second thoughts about his career choice.
I knew I should’ve played baseball…
— JamalAdams (@TheAdams_era) March 18, 2017
Never say never, Jamal. If Deion Sanders could do it…