BATON ROUGE, La. — In a game filled with rocketed home runs, more defensive miscues than you can count, an ejection and a game-swinging comeback, the LSU baseball team found a way to win.
“It’s just I think a testament to these guys learning already,” LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri said. “Baseball games are nine innings in duration. What happens in the first four or five innings doesn’t matter. What you do at the end of the game does. That was the No. 1 biggest lesson I think we learned tonight.”
LSU defeated Texas 10-5 on Saturday night, clinching a series victory over the Longhorns and improving to 4-2 on the season. The Tigers came back from a 5-0 deficit in the fifth inning, scoring 5 runs in the frame to tie the game. Freshman outfielder Nick Webre, playing for the previously-ejected Beau Jordan, gave LSU the lead in the seventh inning when he scored on a wild pitch after reaching on a 1-out double.
“When my name got called, I was ready to go, especially to follow up Beau and try to help this team win to the best that I could,” Webre said. “At the time, I was just like ‘Alright, I’ve got to run the bases here. I wasn’t going to worry about hitting or going to left yet. I was trying to score on whatever I could. It worked out and the game kept going on and I just went from there.”
Second baseman Brandt Broussard added a run of cushion with an RBI single in the seventh, giving him a team-high 9 RBI through six games. Freshman Daniel Cabrera tacked on another with a solo home run to lead off the eighth inning, the first home run of his LSU career.
Making up for his twin brother’s ejection, Bryce Jordan singled in two more runs in the eighth inning to extend LSU’s lead even further.
Rally on five
After laying dormant for the first four innings, LSU’s bats awoke in the fifth with a rally to remember. First baseman Bryce Jordan opened things up with a 1-out single, followed by an RBI single from second baseman Brandt Broussard and an RBI double from shortstop Hal Hughes. Designated hitter Austin Bain doubled in a third run and scored one batter later on an Antoine Duplantis triple, and catcher Hunter Feduccia tied things up with an RBI single of his own.
“Just a lot of competitors,” Duplantis said about what makes this team tailor-made for comebacks. “Beau and Bryce, they’re always competing. It’s really fun to see them get fired up and it just really gets the team going. Everybody’s having selfless at-bats. Everybody’s just buying into what each person’s approach is. I guess that’s about it. Everyone wants to win really bad.
All this set the stage for Beau Jordan, who came into his fifth-inning at-bat 0-for-1 on the day with a hit-by-pitch and a strikeout. With the hit-and-run on, Beau Jordan singled up the middle, moving Feduccia to third base. On his way to first, the left fielder showed Texas pitcher Chase Shugart his middle finger, leading to his ejection.
“I didn’t really know what happened,” Bryce Jordan said of his brother’s ejection. “It just kept the dugout up. We just kept feeding off that energy that we had before the accident. I wouldn’t say that it helped us at all, but we had the energy before it happened.”
After some lengthy objection from LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri and a Texas pitching change, third baseman Jake Slaughter ended the rally one at-bat later with a flyout to centerfield that ended the inning.
What they came back from
Texas built a 5-0 lead in the first five innings thanks to its power stroke. The Longhorns smacked three home runs off LSU starting pitcher Caleb Gilbert, who allowed 5 earned runs in 4+ innings of work. Designated hitter Zach Zubia launched two of those home runs, driving in 3 runs in the process, and third baseman Kody Clemens, son of MLB legend Roger Clemens, notched the third.
This was the second straight start where Gilbert failed to complete the fifth inning. The junior right-hander has now allowed 10 earned runs in 8.1 innings pitched, tagging him with a 10.80 ERA two weeks into the season.
Hats off to the bullpen
Gilbert didn’t have his best stuff on Saturday, but just as was the case last week, the bullpen bailed him out. Taylor Petersen, Matthew Beck, Nick Bush and Bain combined to throw 5 shutout innings on Saturday, stabilizing LSU’s defense and allowing for the comeback.
Pitching the first significant innings of his LSU career, Petersen dazzled in immediate relief of Gilbert. The junior college transfer tossed 1.2 shutout frames, allowing 1 hit with 1 strikeout. Petersen gave way to Beck, who struck out 2 batters in 1.1 innings before giving the ball over to Bush. Bush stranded runners on the corners by striking out Clemens to end the top of the eighth, freezing the go-ahead run at the plate.
Not to be outdone, Bain stranded the bases loaded in the ninth inning to end the game.
“I thought Taylor Petersen gave us a big lift when he came out of the bullpen,” Mainieri said. “And then the rest of the guys out of the bullpen were tremendous. The big pitch Bush made against Clemens was awesome. And then of course Austin Bain being able to rebound after letting three base runners on to finish it.”
What’s next for LSU baseball
The LSU baseball team goes for the sweep on Sunday afternoon with Game 3 of this series versus Texas. First pitch has been moved up to 1 p.m. CT in an attempt to get ahead of inclement weather. Despite the time change, the game will still be available to watch via stream online through WatchESPN.