BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU baseball team’s 2018 home slate ended about as well as it could’ve.
Sparked by three dominant offensive innings to start the game, LSU defeated in-state foe Northwestern State 9-5 in its Alex Box Stadium finale on Tuesday night. The win improved LSU to 32-21 on the season and puts the Tigers on a two-game winning streak heading into its final series of the regular season beginning on Thursday at Auburn.
“We’re still striving for an NCAA bid and every game matters,” LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri said. “We’re in this situation because we dropped some midweek games earlier in the year. I almost felt like tonight was the same as Sunday against Alabama. It was really a must-win for us. As far as the NCAA tournament, we couldn’t lose tonight.”
LSU jumped out to its early lead behind RBI singles from centerfielder Zach Watson and catcher Nick Coomes in the first inning. The heart of the order supplied more production in the second inning, with first baseman Austin Bain driving an RBI single and left fielder Daniel Cabrera smacking a 2-run home run, his 8th of the season.
End 2 | LSU added three more runs in the inning, capped off with this @Daniel2cabrera dinger!
— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) May 16, 2018
The Tigers tacked on three more runs in the third inning when Antoine Duplantis and Bain both came away with RBI singles, and a third run scored on a throwing error after Duplantis’ base-hit. By the time the fourth inning concluded, eight of LSU’s nine starters had reached base at least once.
Sophomore right-hander Matthew Beck started and threw 3 shutout innings for the Tigers, striking out 6 batters and allowing 2 hits. Junior Caleb Gilbert followed Beck with 2 shutout innings of his own before giving way to rarely-used junior Brandon Nowak who added a shutout inning of his own.
Right-handed sophomore Will Reese came in to pitch the seventh and allowed a run on 2 hits and a wild pitch before freshman John Kodros came in to finish the frame. Junior Taylor Petersen allowed another 2 runs to score in the eighth before he was replaced by Clay Moffitt. Moffit allowed two of the runners he inherited from Petersen to score before LSU coach Paul Mainieri moved Bain from first base to the mound.
Bain finished off the eighth and returned for a scoreless ninth, closing out the win for the Tigers. As the game came to its final outs, the remaining fans at Alex Box Stadium chanted Bain’s name. Playing in what was likely his final home game as a Tiger, Bain soaked in the moment.
“I wanted to be the one to close out the game,” Bain said. “I didn’t need to be taken out of the game for recognition. I love these fans. I love this place. And I didn’t mind going out and closing the game and throwing the last out. It made me happy. That was something special to me.”
What’s next for LSU baseball?
The LSU baseball team leaves for Auburn on Wednesday for a three-game series that begins on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. CT. That game will be televised on ESPNU and will be available to stream online through WatchESPN.