It's not often that the LSU baseball team is in this position, fighting for a postseason berth in the final handful of regular season games. But the Tigers looked like a team playing for its postseason lives and played like it too, jumping on Alabama from the start in a 13-5 rubber match win that clinched the series over the Crimson Tide.
The LSU offense had been in a funk for much of the weekend against the Crimson Tide but it was impossible to tell Sunday afternoon. The Tigers came out firing on all cylinders to snatch the momentum of the game by scoring two in the first, three in the second and three in the third.
The early offense was spearheaded by extra base hits as a two run home run from Cade Doughty, a solo blast from Drew Bianco and a trio of doubles left Alex Box rocking by the end of the second inning. By the third inning, Giovanni DiGiacomo's first home run couldn't have come at a better time as a three run blast put considerable distance between LSU and Alabama, clinching an 8-2 lead.
DiGiacomo would record two home runs on the day while Crews and Tre Morgan would pick up three hits a piece in the offensive explosion for the Tigers. It was the perfect time to connect on the 16 total hits and 13 runs in the game three win, both of which are the second most LSU has had in conference play this season.
"That was as solid an all-around game as we've played all year," coach Paul Mainieri said after the game.
"We knew it was going to be a big win for us and something we needed to accomplish," DiGiacomo said. "Everybody did a great job staying hot and keeping the mojo going."
The offense was the story of the game but Ma'Khail Hilliard was making quite a case early in the contest as well. While the offense was busy laying waste to any pitch over the plate, Hilliard was doing the same thing to the Alabama hitters.
On senior day, Hilliard struck out five of the first six batters he faced en route to a dominant two innings of baseball. his curveball was landing as multiple Alabama hitters just couldn't figure him out.
The Crimson Tide would get to him a bit over the next two innings with a couple of home runs and hits but Hilliard remained in control for much of the five innings he was on the mound. He also had some help with some stellar infield play out of Bianco and Tre Morgan specifically.
"Before the game, I was so locked in because it meant so much to me knowing that this might be my last game playing for LSU," Hilliard said. "Going out there and enjoying these moments with the boys is a really good feeling."
Bianco has been practically a different player since taking over at second base three weeks ago, becoming more consistent at the plate while being a sure-handed infielder as well. Hilliard's day came to an end after five, allowing three runs on four hits with seven strikeouts.
"Definitely been feeling a lot more confident," Bianco said. "Wanted to keep it going and we knew we had to score a lot. Coach told us before the game once we get the lead, let's keep it going. If you ask me and Ma'Khail, we would've liked to have been doing it the whole time but me and him are getting hot at the right time so it's nice."
With a 9-3 lead in hand, the Tigers would turn to freshman Garrett Edwards got into a little trouble in the sixth, allowing a run but stranding a pair of runners on base and pitch a clean seventh inning as well. Fellow freshman Ty Floyd would follow it up in the final two innings, allowing one home run but striking out three in his appearance.
By winning this weekend, LSU kept itself alive in the postseason hunt but next weekend's series against Texas A&M looms large. First is a midweek outing against Northwestern State on Tuesday, the final home game of the season.
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.