With midterm exams ongoing and Vanderbilt looming to open Southeastern Conference play this weekend, Paul Mainieri’s LSU squad may not have ratcheted up the intensity level Tuesday night.
What resulted was a pedestrian five-hit offensive effort marred by nine fly ball outs and a less than routine 5-3 win against visiting Nicholls St. at Alex Box Stadium.
“The best thing about tonight is that it’s over, and we got in in the win column,” Mainieri said after the game. “I didn’t expect their focus to be the best it’s been all year, but I was hoping we’d swing the bats a little bit better.”
After the teams traded runs in the first, LSU struck for a pair of runs in the second in a rally keyed by junior Jared Foster who had lost his starting job and entered the game 0 for his last 12.
Foster slapped a double into the right field corner to score freshman Kramer Robertson from second base. Foster then swiped third base and darted home on Danny Zardon’s chopper to third.
It was Foster again right in the middle of LSU’s second and final crooked inning.
After Andrew Stevenson was hit by a pitch to open the seventh, Foster dropped down a perfect bunt that forced Nicholls St reliever Cole Stapler to lumber over to the first baseline and throw too near the baseline for the first baseman to hang on.
Two men later Sean McMullen singled to left which allowed Stevenson to score, and then Alex Bregman dumped an RBI single of his own to nearly the same spot, Foster scoring his second run in the process.
But Nicholls, trailing 5-2, mounted a rally against Tiger set up man Parker Bugg in the eighth. There was Foster to do his part on defense.
With Darius Knight at second, Leo Vargas lined an RBI single to left field. Foster collected it and fired a rope to second base, easily pegging Vargas for the first out of the inning.
“Usually you don’t get an out in that situation, but I don’t know why he was sent,” Foster said. “Right as I threw it I saw him.”
With the help of a pickoff, Bugg would dance out of the eighth, allowing just one run on three Colonel hits. Bugg’s issues were the only blemish on the Tiger bullpen that otherwise worked three perfect innings after LSU starter Brady Domangue worked through his five.
Zac Person twirled a perfect sixth including two strikeouts. Kurt McCune retired all three he faced in the seventh, punching out one. And Joe Broussard earned his third save of the season with a flawless ninth.
Domangue’s five innings produced a pair of strikeouts and yielded a pair of Colonel runs on five hits. All the base knocks were singles, and two came via the bunt. Domangue has been better in a starting role, but the junior right hander still has improvement to make.
“I thought Brady was ok,” Mainieri said. “He gave up a few hard hit balls, and he did ok. I think he can pitch better than that.”
The Tigers take the field again Wednesday night against crosstown foe Southern.