2/17/19 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Through eight innings, LSU was out-played and lacked the offensive firepower that defined the season opener. But when it mattered most, the Tigers’ bats erupted in the most dramatic of fashions to defeat Army 6-5. That’s when freshman Cade Beloso, the former Gatorade Louisiana Player of the Year, stepped up to the plate down 3-5 in the ninth and launched the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for a three-run walk-off home run. Man I love baseball!
LSU’s bats were stifled early on, as Army’s Daniel Burggraaf held LSU to four hits and just one earned run through 6.1 innings. The Tigers did manage two runs in the first inning, though both were unearned. The first came when Josh Smith singled and came home on an errant throw on a sacrifice bunt by Brant Broussard. The second came when Broussard scored on a sacrifice fly by Antoine Duplantis. The Tigers’ third run came in the seventh but was aided by a walk and a balk. It wasn’t until the eighth inning that LSU’s bats began to show some life. Josh Smith and Brandt Broussard led the inning with back-to-back singles, only to be stranded on a double-play and popup to leave the Tigers with a two run deficit. But as we all know, baseball can change dramatically with one swing of the bat. That’s exactly what happened in the ninth. After Zach Watson and Giovanni DiGiacomo led with walks, Beloso belted the game-winner to make it 6-5 and send the Alex Box Crowd into an uproar.
On the pitching front, freshman Landon Marceaux made his much hyped collegiate debut and didn’t disappoint. After striking out the first batter he faced, he went on to face the minimum though three innings and ended up pitching five scoreless innings before running into trouble in the sixth. That’s when he seemed to run out of gas and a costly leadoff walk came around to score on a single up the middle. Marceaux ended the day having allowed only one run on two hits in 5.2 innings of work with three walks and five strikeouts. Fellow freshman Chase Costello followed Marceaux and allowed four runs on two hits and two walks before giving way to three other newcomers who held the Black Knights scoreless before handing things over to veteran Todd Peterson in the ninth. Peterson flirted with danger, allowing a leadoff double and two walks to load the bases before getting out of a bases loaded jam with a big strikeout.
Honestly, the Tigers didn’t play especially well and will have to play considerably better to live up to their lofty expectations, but hey, we’re only two days into a very long season. Still, it was great to see LSU come through in the clutch. I love the fact that LSU found a different way to win each game and that there have been different heroes each day. And tip your hat to Army. They came to play and are impressive. The Black Knights were an NCAA Tournament team last year and it would not surprise me to see them there this year.
Video Highlights | Complete Box Score
Paul Mainieri’s Tigers will close Military Appreciation Weekend with a 3 p.m. game against the Air Force Academy, a team Maineri used to coach. The game will be available online only through the SEC Network+, which is accessible through Watch ESPN and the Watch ESPN app.
Turning to basketball…
After beating the No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats, a road contest against Georgia had “trap game” written all over it. The LSU men’s basketball team would have none of that. Here’s Jake’s recap of how LSU defeated Georgia, 83-79, in a competitive contest and remained unbeaten in SEC road play.
Tremont Waters wasn’t bottled up in the first half like he was against Kentucky. Waters was getting many shot attempts off with the majority of them falling. Still, LSU found itself trailing Georgia for the first 10 minutes of the first half. The Tigers took their first lead around the 10-minute mark when Waters drained a deep 3-pointer for his 11th point of the contest. This would be part of a 17-2 run over the span of six minutes. In that run, Marlon Taylor had a SC Top 10 Play worthy block in the first half. Perhaps the best play in that run, however, was Waters saving a ball by bouncing it off of a defender on defense for Mays to grab the loose ball at mid-court and lay it up on the other end. It was hustle plays like that on defense that gave LSU an 8-0 run and a 31-22 advantage. The Tigers shot an incredible 61 percent from the field but only led 41-37 at the half.
A couple of treys from Georgia tied the game at 45 early into the second half. Naz Reid got busy in the paint. He scored six straight points, including a monster put-back poster dunk, to regain the lead for the Tigers. The outside shots continued to fall for Georgia, though, which made for an entertaining half. The Tigers’ defense made LSU fans want to pull their hair out by not closing out on shooters. Georgia made eight of its first nine shots in the half to build a five-point lead. The Bulldogs nailed 7-of-16 from 3-point range, but LSU was diligent in getting the ball inside. The Tigers had 40 points inside the paint. After Javonte Smart nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 59 with 12 minutes left, he was called for a technical for jawing up the floor to allow the Bulldogs to regain the momentum. Smart made up for it later with a 3-pointer that gave LSU a 64-62 lead. The Tigers built an 80-73 lead after Mays converted a baseline reverse lay-in and forced a turnover and easy layup for Waters on the ensuing possession with four minutes to play. Up by four with 15 seconds to remaining, Kavell Bigby-Williams blocked a 3-point attempt for the Tigers to get out of Athens with another conference win. Waters led the Tigers with 20 points, and Smart added 19 in the victory.
Video Highlights | Complete box score
Will Wade’s Tigers return home for a 6 p.m. matchup Wednesday on ESPN2 with the Florida Gators. After that, No. 1 Tennessee comes to the PMAC on Saturday. By the way, the Vols lost to Kentucky last night, 69-86.
In football news…
LSU’s good fortunes weren’t limited to baseball and basketball, as LSU also received some great news on the football recruiting front. During LSU’s Junior Day event, Coach Ed Orgeron secured a commitment from California DL Jordan Berry, one of the top defensive tackles in the 2020 class. Berry (6-3, 280) hails from Los Angeles, California, and chose LSU over offers from Southern Cal, Florida, Georgia and others. In our recent Q&A with Mike Detillier, Mike spoke about Orgeron’s connections out West, and those are obviously paying off. Berry, along with five-star cornerback Elias Ricks, the No. 1 cornerback in the country, gives LSU two commitments from California in its 2020 class. That class, by the way, currently contains 10 commitments, including three big-time defensive tackles, and is ranked No. 2 in the nation in 247Sports Composite Team Rankings. With Berry’s pledge, LSU is now No. 1 in Rivals’ Team Rankings.
That’s probably enough good stuff for one update, but here’s a little more as lagniappe…
While I was writing about baseball and watching the basketball game, my wife was cooking up this tasty Crawfish Etoufée. With Crawfish season upon us, you might find this a good time to give it a try. If you do, I ask only two things of you: Buy Louisiana crawfish and let me know how it comes out.
Enjoy your Sunday, Tiger Fans.