The LSU baseball team proved itself to be the superior Tigers Wednesday afternoon.
In a rain-soaked game interrupted by an 81-minute delay, LSU defeated Missouri 10-3 in a second-round SEC Tournament game in Hoover, Ala. Wednesday. With the win, the No. 2 Tigers (4-17, 22-9 SEC) will advance to face No. 3 Kentucky Thursday with a spot in the SEC Tournament semifinals on the line.
LSU won Wednesday’s game by following the script it’s obeyed all season: strong defense and situational hitting.
Sophomore pitcher and Hoover native Caleb Gilbert started for the Tigers, allowing one run in five innings off three hits, one of which a solo home run. Gilbert’s success came despite his usually-high strikeout rate, as Gilbert only rung up three batters in his five frames. Instead, Gilbert relied on the ground ball, forcing six groundouts, one of which a double play and three of which strong throws from shortstop Kramer Robertson and third baseman Josh Smith to gun out runners at first.
With the defense characteristically in tow, LSU’s offense showed up in bunches. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning, LSU strung together four hits and a walk, scoring four runs to seize its first lead of the game. Michael Papierski opened the frame with a walk and was promptly moved all the way around the bases by a ringing Zach Watson double. Robertson pushed Watson to third with a single to left field before second baseman Cole Freeman scored Watson on a sac fly to deep right field.
Deftly, Robertson advanced to second on the deep sacrifice, putting himself in scoring position with one out. One batter later, left fielder Antoine Duplantis singled, scoring Robertson from second and stealing the Tigers a run. Duplantis scored two batters later on a Nick Coomes single.
LSU added two more runs in the fifth inning, though the two runs were scored 81 minutes apart as the frame was divided by a lengthy rain delay. The first run came via some classic small ball, as Robertson opened the inning with a walk, then moved to third on a Freeman bunt and Missouri scoring error and scored on a Duplantis bunt.
After the delay, Coomes pushed Freeman across with a groundout. The run was unearned.
The Tigers added four more insurance runs in the eighth inning as the rain picked up, three off a three-run home run from Freeman. The shot was Freeman’s second of the year and his first since LSU’s series against Florida in the second week of SEC play. Freeman finished the game 4-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored.
Gilbert didn’t return to the mound after the delay, giving way to redshirt freshman Nick Bush. Bush tossed two innings of shutout ball, striking out one batter and allowed three hits. After Bush, LSU brought in freshman fireman Zack Hess, who allowed one run in one inning. Freshman Matthew Beck finished the game by allowing one run in the ninth inning.
What’s next for LSU baseball?
The LSU baseball team will return to action in Hoover Thursday afternoon versus No. 3 Kentucky. The game is set to be the late one, though the exact time of the game is subject to weather and the lengths of the two games that come prior to it.
LSU will send All-SEC starter Alex Lange to the mound, while Kentucky will use its All-SEC arm, Sean Hjelle. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network and be available for stream through WatchESPN.