METAIRIE, La. — The LSU baseball team would’ve made Wally Pontiff Jr. proud Tuesday night.
In the game bearing the late LSU legend’s name at the Shrine on Airline in Metairie, the No. 9 Tigers outlasted Louisiana-Lafayette, defeating the Cajuns 3-2. The win improved LSU to 23-11 on the year and boosted the Tigers’ all-time record in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Foundation Classic to 12-2.
Most of LSU’s offensive production, and all of its scoring, came in the fourth inning. Zach Watson, Josh Smith and Nick Coomes opened the frame with three consecutive singles, the third of which scoring Watson from second. After a sacrifice bunt and line out, shortstop Kramer Robertson reset the order with a two-run single, plating Smith and Coomes and establishing LSU’s lead.
Robertson also played hero defensively with a smooth snag that might’ve been the difference in the game. With two on and no outs in the top of the fifth, UL’s Brad Antchak singled up the middle. Had the ball slipped between Robertson and second baseman Cole Freeman, two Ragin’ Cajuns would’ve scored. But Robertson stabbed the ball up the middle and fired home, getting UL catcher Handsome Monica out with plenty of time and saving a run that was potentially the difference between a win and extra innings.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to get to it, but it was just a hustle play,” Robertson said. “I was hoping that Cole or I could knock it down. I had a chance at it so I dove and came up with it. I immediately tried to throw it home and the guy was going so we got a big out there and kind of changed the game. If you pitch well and play good defense, you’re always going to have a chance to win.”
Right fielder Greg Deichmann continued his hot streak with a 2-for-4 day, pulling a single into right field in the first and clobbering a double off the right field wall in the fifth. Tuesday was Deichmann’s fifth straight game with multiple hits, upping his season batting average to .341.
Freshman Matthew Beck started for LSU, tossing two shutout innings with two strikeouts and one hit allowed. Beck was spelled by fellow freshman Todd Peterson, who also threw two shutout frames. Peterson gave way to Austin Bain, who allowed two runs in the fifth inning without allowing an out. Bain was replaced by senior Collin Strall, who allowed two hits, but no runs, while recording only one out. After Strall, LSU’s pitching stabilized, with Nick Bush throwing a shutout inning and Zack Hess stranding two runners in scoring position to end the sixth and a runner on third to end the seventh.
“Being a reliever, you’re always on your toes,” Hess said about his first outing in a week. “You never know when you’re going to go in. But a game like tonight where we’re kind of going Johnny Wholestaff, you know you’re going to get your opportunity. You just have to be patient. It was definitely good to be back out there for sure.”
Hess left the game after the seventh. In came LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri’s best bullpen arms Caleb Gilbert and Hunter Newman. Gilbert struck out two in a hitless eighth, then Newman ended the game with three quick, consecutive outs. Newman earned a save for the outing, his fifth of the year.
What’s next for LSU baseball?
The Tigers return to Alex Box Stadium this weekend for a three-game series versus rival Ole Miss, beginning Thursday at 6:30 p.m. All three games will be streamed live on WatchESPN and through the Watch ESPN app.