BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri promised a bullpen game Wednesday night. And even if the LSU baseball team didn’t need one, that’s sure what it got.
LSU used five pitchers in an 8-2 victory against Southeastern Louisiana. The win improved the Tigers to 17-5 for the season and extends LSU’s winning streak to four games in advance of an anticipated SEC series versus Florida this weekend.
Freshman Zack Hess started off the night for the Tigers, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks in four innings of work. Hess was initially relieved by Russell Reynolds, who lasted only three batters before Mainieri had to remove him after he exchanged some choice words with the SLU dugout. SLU asked for an inspection of Reynolds’ hat for a foreign substance, but the umpires ruled Reynolds did nothing illegal. Nevertheless, tempers flared and Mainieri elected to pull Reynolds from the game.
— Nick Suss (@nicksuss) March 23, 2017
“I guess I was just heated in the moment of the fact that they thought there was something going on with my hat,” Reynolds said. “I felt I was being looked at as if I was trying to cheat the game or something. That’s the only thing that fired me up a little bit. I play the game with passion, emotion. Every time I take the mound, I’m on edge. The edge I feel like I get over the hitter is being mad that he’s in the box and trying to get a hit off me. That’s what led to everything and me losing my composure.”
Freshman Matthew Beck came in for Reynolds and tossed 1.2 innings of shutout baseball.
“He’s got a little bit of an unconventional delivery,” Mainieri said about Beck. “It probably keeps him from throwing 95 mph, but at the same time it creates a little deception for the hitters. He gets his breaking ball over for strikes and above everything else, he’s fearless. He was a really good high school quarterback. Those kinds of kids, they’re used to having the ball in their hands. They just don’t get flustered. I could see that in Matthew Beck.”
Right fielder Greg Deichmann provided the decisive blast, a three-run home run in the third inning that gave LSU its 4-1 lead. The homer was Deichmann’s SEC-leading 8th of the season. All other LSU baseball players have combined to hit 10 home runs this season.
RELATED: WATCH — Greg Deichmann smacks 8th home run of 2017
LSU scored its first run of the game in the second inning off a Josh Smith double. Smith posted a team-high 4 hits and 3 RBI. All 3 RBI came on a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning to extend LSU’s lead to 8-1.
Play of the Game
Mainieri might say that Antoine Duplantis is the fifth-most athletic person in his family. But he made a play Wednesday worthy of elevating him at least a spot or two.
— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) March 23, 2017
With a runner on first and one out in the top of the third inning, SLU left fielder Drew Avans took Hess deep. Duplantis reacted in a hurry and made a jumping catch up against the left-field wall. But that’s not even the most impressive part of the play.
Duplantis had the wherewithal to notice SLU’s baserunner was a bit overeager, catching him backtracking between third and second bases. Duplanits fired in to shortstop Kramer Robertson, who threw to first baseman Jake Slaughter for the run-of-the-mill, 7-6-3 inning-ending double play.
Slaughter was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, making it the fourth straight game an opposing pitcher has plunked the freshman. He’s now been hit a team-high 10 times this year, 6 coming in the last week.
The first baseman has been hit in 13 percent of his at-bats this season, just a smidgen behind the pace Bryce Jordan was on last season when he got hit 29 times in 188 at-bats or 15 percent of the time.
Slaughter also singled in the in fourth inning and came around to score in the seventh after being hit.
What’s next for LSU baseball?
The Tigers will head to Gainesville, Fla., Friday for a pivotal three-game SEC series versus the Florida Gators. The LSU-Florida game on Friday will begin at 6 p.m. CT and be broadcast on the SEC Network. First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be on ESPN2, while play on Sunday begins at noon on SEC Network.