4/25/15 6:10 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Trailing 5-2, the No. 1 LSU baseball team rallied for seven runs on eight hits in the final two innings to defeat No. 2 Texas A&M 9-6 and secure the series win. I’ll tell you what, this series has certainly lived up to the hype and has been one of the most enjoyable I’ve watched in a long time. If there was any doubt that this LSU baseball team was deserving of its unanimous No. 1 ranking, it was certainly put to rest during these last two nights.
Freshman Alex Lange got the start for the Tigers and didn’t have his best stuff, but his rough outing was overcome by a Tiger offense that put up 14 hits and went 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position against one of the nation’s top pitching staffs. On the night, Lange allowed five runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts and five walks. Russell Reynolds pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief and Hunter Newman held the Aggies to one run in the final two innings to earn his third save of the season.
The Tigers were led at the plate by Jake Fraley who went 3-for-4 with two RBI and Alex Bregman who went 2-for-4 with two RBI, including a clutch hit in the 7th. On that at-bat, Bregman fouled off what seemed like 100 pitches against A&M’s Mark Ecker before smashing a 2-RBI double down the left field line to put the Tigers up, 6-5. It’s those kinds of at-bats that make Bregman a truly remarkable player.
If you didn’t watch the game, or if you are one of the handful of fans I heard from who turned the game off in the sixth inning after LSU fell behind by three, do yourself a favor and watch these video highlights to see how it ended. (Note: Looks like LSU’s video highlights have a glitch. Here are a few highlights and postgame comments by Tiger TV.) Also, here’s the boxscore.
Here’s a quick scoring recap: The Aggies jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on two hits. LSU answered with a run in the bottom of the inning on a 2-out RBI single by Connor Hale. In the second inning, LSU went ahead 2-1 on an RBI single by Fraley. The Aggies plated a run in the third and fourth innings to retake the lead 3-2, and then expanded their lead to 5-2 in the top of the sixth on a 2-out RBI single. In the 7th, Chris Chinea and Fraley led the Tigers’ epic comeback with back-to-back singles, and then Jared Foster singled through the left side to score Chinea and get Fraley to third. Designated hitter Chris Sciambra followed with a perfectly placed safety squeeze to score Fraley. Renowned Aggies relief pitcher Mark Ecker entered the game with one out and Alex Bregman at the plate, and that’s when Bregman fouled off a ton of 3-2 pitches before doubling down the left-field line to push LSU ahead 6-5. LSU didn’t let up in the bottom of the eighth, but instead added three more insurance runs. Stevenson hit a one-out single up the middle and flew from first to home on a double to left field by Chinea. The Aggies brought in reliever Blake Kopetsky, but LSU pushed two more runs across the plate on a triple by Fraley and a groundout by Foster to put the Tigers up by four, 9-5. The Aggies scored their final run in the ninth on two hits and an error to make it a 9-6 ballgame.
LSU will go for the series sweep today at 1 p.m. CT in a game that will be televised by ESPN.
In softball news, the No. 3 LSU Tigers will return to action today against the No. 15 Tigers of Missouri. First pitch for today’s game is slated for 2 p.m. Tomorrow’s game will start at 3 p.m. and Monday’s finale will be at 6 p.m. The first two games of the series will be streamed online on SEC Network+, and Monday’s primetime clash set for the SEC Network. This weekend’s series, which will be played at University Field in Columbia, will be the Tigers final regular season road series this year. LSU is coming off of a 2-1 series win against Texas A&M and has won seven of its last 10 games, but on the road the Purple and Gold Tigers are just 6-5. The Tigers of Missouri (33-10, 11-7) are a very strong team with two excellent pitchers, and they’re 7-3 at home this season. This has all the markings of an excellent series, and an important one too. With just two weekends remaining before the SEC Softball Tournament, LSU is in prime position to earn a high seed for the championship, sitting a half game behind Florida along with Auburn for the top spot in the regular season title race. The top four teams at the end of next Sunday will play on Thursday, while the eight below will play in the opening round on Wednsday.
Now turning to football, today we’ll start a five-part series on a few LSU football players who saw their stock rise this spring. As always, your comments and feedback are welcome. Here we go…
(6-5, 340, junior OG, New Iberia, LA)
If you were to craft an ideal SEC guard, he’d probably look a lot like Boutte. At 6-foot-5, 340 pounds, the junior from New Iberia, Louisiana certainly looks the part, but looking the part and playing the part are two completely different things. Heading into spring, one of the biggest question marks was how the offensive line would shake out after the departure of La’el Collins and Elliot Porter. Three keys members of LSU’s offensive line were pretty much set in stone – Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander at tackles and Ethan Pocic at either center or guard, but there were two spots up for grabs. As it turns out, William Clapp emerged as the leading candidate for the center spot with Pocic remaining at left guard where he spent much of last season. That set the stage for a very competitive battle for the right guard spot between Boutte, KJ Malone and Garrette Broomfield, and all indications are that Boutte emerged victorious.
In the Spring Game, Boutte started at right guard for the White team (the first-stringers) and had an impressive showing. After the game, Coach Les Miles said Boutte is “not there yet but has taken a giant step forward.” Boutte still has some work to do technique-wise, but when he learns to control his body and utilize all of his strength, well, let’s just say Tiger fans should see more of what we saw in the Big Cat Drill when Boutte manhandled Greg Gilmore in the final week of spring.
A lot of pressure comes with learning the playbook and getting up to SEC speed in order to contribute, but if Boutte can put it all together, LSU’s offensive line should dominate as it has in the past, despite having two new starters. Boutte’s performance in the spring game has us thinking he’s on his way to piecing everything together.
In closing, a word on LSU women’s basketball recruiting: Coach Nikki Caldwell announced yesterday the signing of Chloe Jackson, a 5-9 guard who spent last season at North Carolina State. Jackson will begin practicing with the Tigers during the 2015-16 year but will not be eligible to compete until 2016-17, which will be her redshirt sophomore season. Jackson, a native of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was highly recruited out of high school after being named the Washington Post’s Girls Basketball Player of the Year. As a senior in high school, she averaged 17.3 points per game and was ranked the 19th best guard in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. Jackson played in only four games for NC State last season, but only saw extended action in one game when she scored five points, pulled down five rebounds and had two steals against Tennessee State.