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LSU Baseball Outduels Texas Southern at the Plate in 10-4 Win

Tigers get stellar relief outing from Ma'Khail Hilliard, convert with runners in scoring position

LSU coach Paul Mainieri told reporters on Monday that had Cade Doughty been able to play against Oral Roberts, he would've been the difference maker to a potential series win. 

After missing a week of play due to a shoulder injury, Doughty no doubt was eager to step back up to the plate and proved to be a major factor in LSU's 10-4 win against Texas Southern. Sporting a new look at third base, Doughty's first inning home run was a precursor to a 2-for-4 night in the sophomore infielder's return.

It took only 2.2 innings to burn through two LSU (10-3) pitchers as starter Javen Coleman and relief pitcher Blake Money both struggled with command to help Texas Southern plate four runs in the first three innings. 

Two walks, a hit batter and three passed balls defined an excrutiating long third inning for the Tigers that resulted in Money being pulled. But the LSU pitchers and defense were helped by the offense on Tuesday evening.

Both times Texas Southern made runs in the first and third innings, the LSU offense was able to match the success at the plate in the next half inning. It wasn't just the third baseman Doughty who looked really good at the plate. 

Freshman Dylan Crews drew a pair of walks that earned him two runs as well while Tre' Morgan, Cade Beloso and Gavin Dugas all had nice evenings at the plate. Morgan's fourth inning double to the opposite field was the little separation LSU needed to get some breathing room as Morgan would go 3-for-5 with four RBI on the night.

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Not to be overshadowed was the pitching performance from veteran Ma'Khail Hilliard. The senior went 3.1 innings after the early struggles from Coleman and Money, delivering no runs with five strikeouts. Of the 40 pitches Hilliard threw on the night, 34 went for strikes to cap off a masterfull outing from Hilliard. 

It was easily one of the better performances we've seen from him out of the bullpen. He was pretty consistent as a freshman starter but has had his ups and downs in a relief role. Hilliard admitted he's a superstitious person and that a new haircut was one of the reasons he felt so much better on the mound.

"I felt like I wasn't pitching like I was in the fall and felt I needed to switch something up," Hilliard said. "I felt pretty good out there. The confidence was at its highest than it's ever been. You don't know how good it felt to be out there and pitch that way again.

"Ma'Khail was really outstanding," Mainieri said. "His fastball was really moving and then his curveball had so much spin on it. It looked like the Ma'Khail Hilliard of old. He looked really good." 

Closer Devin Fontenot even seemed to find his rhythm, striking out the final two batters h efacd in the seventh inning.

LSU will now hit the road for its second game away from the Box at UNO on Wednesday evening with freshman Will Hellmers getting the start. 

Photo courtesy of LSUsports.