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LSU Offense Fails in 3-0 Game One Loss to Gonzaga in NCAA Regional

Tigers must now run the tables after opening loss in Eugene, will face Central Connecticut Saturday.

All season long, LSU has just never put it all together consistently. One game the offense struggles and the next it's the pitching. On Friday in the regional opener against Gonzaga, all of the team's bad habits came to the forefront in a disappointing way.

The Tigers fell into their old ways as the offense was unable to put forth any pressure on starter Alek Jacob, as the Gonzaga pitcher shut out the LSU offense for a complete game and earned a 3-0 win. 

It marks the fifth time LSU has been shut out in a regional game in program history, the last one coming in 2018 against Oregon State. In its last 18 innings of baseball, the offense has mustered just a single run. 

Heading into the game, coach Paul Mainieri said that the Gonzaga offense usually doesn't go down swinging and puts the ball in play. That meant the defense behind Marceaux needed to be on point and it was from the very first inning. After allowing a pair of singles to lead off the game, Dylan Crews made a great play in right and Jordan Thompson followed with a self turned double play. 

But the defense from that point on was inconsistent, allowing Marceaux's pitch count to get higher than the Tigers would've liked. The sun affected plays in the outfield and a pair of errors in the infield didn't help either. 

LSU knew it'd be facing a disciplined offense on Friday and Gonzaga was able to have success against Marceaux, mainly because he was getting behind in counts early. The Zags were able to capitalize in the second with a big two run inning as Marceaux allowed three hits and issued a walk in the inning. 

"We were trying to get them to ground out, get themselves out but I was a little erratic with my command, got behind in counts and I think they were able to get more confident swings on the ball," Marceaux said. 

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Marceaux would be replaced in the sixth inning at 100 pitches, with Jacob Hasty entering the game and allowing a hit to record a third run off Marceaux. And with the offense playing the way it did, a 3-0 deficit with three innings to play felt insurmountable.

The LSU offense has been defined by missed opportunities in key situations and after Gonzaga jumped out to a 2-0 lead through three innings, the Tigers were put in a prime position to cut into the lead with a Crews leadoff triple. A walk and hit batter later in the inning would load the bases in a two out situation but a deep fly out would end the threat. 

Outside of that, LSU really struggled to put starter Alek Jacob in tough spots as it was the Gonzaga ace who forced LSU into eight flyball outs in the first six innings and just four total hits in his nine innings on the mound. One of the strategies LSU wanted to use against the right handed Jakob was load the order with left handed batters. But that didn't fool the Gonzaga ace as left handed batters went 1-for-12 on the evening.

"We just couldn't solve him. We watched a lot of film on him and we hadn't faced a guy like that all year," Mainieri said. "It's hard to describe, he's such a unique kind of guy, all arms and legs, he didn't throw hard but he relied on deception a lot but he's done this every game he's thrown this year.

"He was a very good arm up there, didn't have the greatest stuff, was sitting around 84-86," Crews said. "He had a big ole curve ball and usually with side arm guys, they have a bit of sink to it. His ball had more horizontal run to it. We couldn't adjust to it or capitalize on certain situations."

In six innings, the Tigers left five on base and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. 

One last opportunity with the top of the order due up in the eighth started with a strikeout, one of his nine on the night, to pinch hitter Zach Arnold and the top of the order in Tre Morgan and Crews popped out.

LSU will now prepare for Central Connecticut, a team that put up 10 runs on No. 1 seed Oregon Friday afternoon.