LSU baseball entered Saturday afternoon needing momentum, any kind of momentum after a grueling five game SEC losing streak left the Tigers at the very bottom of the conference standings. The first two games against No. 1 Vanderbilt weren't even a competition but LSU did just enough to hang around until the very end.
The momentum was there with LSU at least keeping it a competitive game most of the way, but a two run home run in the seventh inning put the Commodores ahead 5-3 and ultimately led to the series sweep, winning 5-4. It's the first time since 2010 that LSU (17-11, 1-8) has been swept in conference play two consecutive weekends in a row. The 1-8 start to SEC play is the worst mark since 1969.
Free passes from Vanderbilt kept the Tigers in the game early as starting pitcher Thomas Schultz issued three walks and hit two LSU batters in the first four innings of the game. However, the purple and gold weren't able to capitalize on the mistakes until the fourth inning.
Outside of a solo home run from Gavin Dugas in the second, the Tigers had failed to record a hit up to that point in the game. But after Schultz put two runners on base via walk and a hit batter, freshman designated hitter Brody Drost delivered with an RBI single.
Tre Morgan was hit by a pitch by relief pitcher Miles Garrett to bring home the game tying run.
"I believe we have a really good team and we know we're really good," Dugas said. "I'm not trying to make excuses at all because we will figure it out, it's gonna happen. We'll get on the right track eventually."
It was the first time all series where LSU had a glimmer of hope after being thoroughly dominated the first two nights. The offense was starting to gain a little confidence, it just needed a little help from it's pitching staff to keep the game tight.
To that point in the game, starter AJ Labas hadn't been his sharpest. He'd thrown 84 pitches in the first four innings, allowing seven hits and three runs as the Commodores had somewhat started to figure him out.
But the junior was able to keep LSU afloat with a scoreless fifth inning, that concluded with what would be his seventh strikeout of the game to end the inning. Labas would dip into the sixth inning berfore being replaced by freshman Garrett Edwards with a runner on first.
Labas would finish allowing nine hits but only three runs with seven strikeouts on an afternoon where he really had to battle for every out.
"I'm very pleased with it because I had to make pitches whenever I needed to and that was a big point in this game since I wasn't feeling the best mechanically," Labas said. "It's just one of those things where I needed to go out there and battle and keep the score the way it was."
LSU had its opportunities with the score gridlocked at three a piece. A leadoff double from Dylan Crews wasn't able to get a run in the fifth. A leadoff single from Tre Morgan got him to second but the Tigers couldn't convert. An error in the eighth put Jordan Thompson at second with two outs but again led to no runs.
Despite the free bases, LSU was only able to record four hits throughout the contest, one of which came over the final three innings. Commodores closer Luke Murphy, loaded the bases with walks and a hit batter in the ninth but a sacrifice fly and subsequent popout from Cade Doughty ultimately ended the threat and the game.
"Obviously you hate to lose another game," Dugas said. "I think we had a lot of momentum on our side and we had plenty of opportunities to make our mark on that game and we just weren't able to capitalize."
The Tigers will now get an extra day's rest before welcoming McNeese State to the Box on Tuesday evening.