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LSU Baseball Can't Get Out of Own Way in 5-4 Loss to Arkansas

Late game mistakes once again doom Tigers in a winnable SEC game

LSU had its opportunities but ultimately the Tigers couldn't get out of their own way, spoiling a comeback attempt with mistakes down the stretch in a tight 5-4 loss to Arkansas.

While LSU's offense has shown tremendous signs of growth in the last few weeks, particularly in end of game scenarios, this group has struggled against its opponents' first game starters. Whether it was Florida's Hunter Barco or Mississippi State's Preston Johnson, there is room for improvement and that trend extended against Arkansas' Connor Noland. 

It took LSU six innings to get its first hit of the game, stringing together just two free baserunners prior to a single up the middle by centerfielder Dylan Crews. The saying hitting's contagious certainly applied to the Tigers' two out rally in the sixth as the Crews hit sparked what would be four straight batters who delivered hard hit singles.

Jacob Berry, Cade Doughty and Josh Pearson all put together RBI swings to suddenly turn what was a Noland no hitter into a 3-2 LSU lead in the sixth. 

As a result, there was pressure on Thursday night starter Ma'Khail Hilliard, who was able to come away relatively unscathed despite not having much help from his field, a disturbing trend that LSU hasn't yet shaken out of this season. Hilliard did a great job limiting damage, a common theme for his career as a five-year reliable SEC pitcher.

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An error in the first led to just one Razorbacks run and after loading the bases in the third, Hilliard was able to escape with minimal damage, stranding the bases loaded. He'd allow just three hits and one earned run with five strikeouts, just demolishing the Razorbacks offense with his offspeed pitches.

Though his pitch count would reach the 100 mark by the end of the fifth inning, his control of the curveball helped him power through and allow the Tigers enough time to get going with the big sixth inning. Unfortunately for LSU, the once again solid pitching rotations weren't enough to overcome the shortcomings in the field. 

Clinging to a 3-2 lead in the seventh and two runners on, LSU had multiple opportunities to get out of the inning unscathed but couldn't make the plays. Arkansas got greedy on a two out swing up the middle that was made but the throw home from the infield was way off line, allowing the tying run to score. 

The very next batter, a wild pitch on a ball that shouldn't have gotten past the catcher allowed two runners to get in scoring position and eventually give Arkansas a 5-3 lead with an RBI swing that scored two. Too many times this season LSU has gotten in its own way with opportunities to steal winnable games.

Of the five runs scored, at least four came following plays that couldn't be made by the LSU defense. While the Tigers were able to get one back in the eighth, they ultimately left the bases loaded and couldn't put together enough in the ninth.

This was a game that was very winnable but another case of the Tigers not being able to get out of their own way. They'll look to even up the series on Friday with Blake Money on the mound.