After two weekends of failing to score a run in an SEC series opener, the LSU baseball team came out Friday night looking to make up for its recent struggles.
It didn’t work out.
LSU only mustered nine hits, but all of them were singles, as the No. 13 Tigers lost a one-sided game to the No. 15 Arkansas Razorbacks 9-3. The Tigers offensive issues versus SEC aces continued, as LSU mustered no runs and three hits in six innings of Arkansas’ Blaine Knight, who struck out six Tigers.
Alex Lange started for LSU and minimized damage in what should’ve been a much rougher start than it was. Lange allowed two earned runs in 4.1 innings pitched, striking out seven but walking five and allowing six hits, one of which a home run. Arkansas loaded the bases against Lange in each of the first three innings, but Lange stranded the Razorbacks with three on all three times.
The bullpen wasn’t able to pick up for Lange after he departed, as relievers Blair Frederick and Russell Reynolds each allowed three runs in the sixth and seventh innings, building the Arkansas lead. Lange also allowed one unearned run off an error by LSU third baseman Josh Smith.
The escape artist
For as poor as Lange looked all night, he flashed his first-round talent when the situations were most dire. Lange stranded runners in scoring position in each of the four innings he finished, including stranding the bases loaded in the first three innings.
Other than a solo home run in the second, Lange did not allow a run in the first three frames, despite loading the bases each time. He achieved this feat by pounding his curveball and trying to get runners to chase pitches out of the zone. This resulted in a high volume of strikeouts, but also more walks than Lange would’ve wanted due to the unpredictable nature of his 12-6 breaking ball.
Nowhere was this better illustrated than in the first inning. Lange achieved the rare feat of a four-strikeout inning in the opening frame, but his second strikeout came with a dropped third strike, and Arkansas was able to put a man on base, starting the rally. Lange loaded the bases with a walk and a single, but managed to end the frame on consecutive strikeouts, one of which in an at-bat where he threw five curveballs on six pitches.
LSU baseball wasn’t able to muster multiple hits in an innings until the eighth, barely getting runners on base in the early going.
The Tigers weren’t able to put a runner in scoring position until the third inning, and not another one until the seventh after Knight left the game. The only LSU hitters who recorded multiple hits were right fielder Greg Deichmann, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and centerfielder Zach Watson, who went 2-for-4. LSU’s hottest batter, shortstop Kramer Robertson, went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
What’s next for LSU baseball?
The Tigers will look to avoid the series defeat tomorrow night with Game 2 of the series versus Arkansas. The game is set to start at 6:00 p.m. CT and a stream will be available on WatchESPN. Senior Jared Poché and his team-leading 1.15 ERA is set to start for LSU versus Arkansas’ Trevor Stephan.