Late Game Mistakes Spoil Gutsy Performance from Ma'Khail Hilliard, LSU Baseball Loses 2-1 to Auburn

Hilliard goes seven innings in star making performance, Tigers not able to put together enough offense
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In what was a mesmorizing performance from Ma'Khail Hilliard on the mound, LSU made too many costly mistakes down the stretch of a tight game, losing game three 2-1 and unable to complete the sweep.

In a 1-1 game in the bottom of the ninth, a leadoff single and a catcher's interference were the catalyst plays to a walkoff single in the ninth but for LSU, the story of the day was Hilliard. 

In his second consecutive SEC start, Hilliard proved to be an exemplary answer for the purple and gold. His devastating 12-6 curveball, a pitch that has been most reliable over the course of his career, was fooling a very good Auburn team throughout the course of his start. 

Hilliard would go seven innings, allowing one run on four hits with six strikeouts on 104 total pitches. What was perhaps most impressive was the conditions in which Hilliard was pitching. 

After the game, he revealed that he had been sick the last few days and woke up with chills and a fever, drenched in sweat on Saturday. The performance he gave was astounding despite the loss.

"I've been sick the last few days but I just really wanted this opportunity to prove myself," Hilliard said. "Not only prove it to myself but everybody in the SEC that we are a good team. Sometimes things don't go as planned and I think we'll be ready next week. 

"Ma'Khail's been unbelievable and he'd been feeling run down, I didn't know he had a fever, that's the first I've heard of it," Mainieri said. "He'd been feeling weak throughout the course of this week but he pitched remarkable. Made a lot of big pitches and deserved to win the game but just couldn't give him the offensive support."

He opened the game extremely calm and collected, retiring the first eight batters of the game before allowing a solo home run in the second, one of his few mistakes on the afternoon. Of the first 18 batters Hilliard faced, 17 were put away to help an offense that was in an equally difficult bind, the necessary time to get going. 

Hilliard was also helped by exemplary play from the LSU outfield as Gavin Dugas, Giovanni DiGiacomo and Dylan Crews all made phenomenal grabs throughout the course of the game. Perhaps the best was this leaping grab from Crews, who couldn't get much going at the plate this weekend but is proving every game why he's a five tool player that's among the very best in the country.

Tre' Morgan continued to be the MVP of the weekend as he opened the game with a solo home run three pitches into the game to give LSU an early lead. With a 1-for-4 afternoon Saturday in the finale, Morgan finished the series 7-for-13 with three RBI. 

But after the Morgan home run, LSU really struggled to generate much offense as 18 of of the next 20 batters were sat down by Auburn starter Richard Fitts, the only baserunners in that span coming on a pair of walks. It took until the seventh inning for LSU to get much of anything going and that was only after Fitts was replaced. 

A series of walks, a hit batter and a single from Jordan Thompson loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh for the purple and gold. With Alex Milazzo at the plate, a hard hit line drive found its way right back to the pitcher who made the play to keep any damage from coming across in a 1-1 ball game.

Hilliard ran into trouble in the eighth as single and catcher's interference put runners on first and second with no outs. He was able to force an out before Jacob Hasty came in to finish the inning off, forcing a double play ball two pitches into his outing, pumping up the LSU bench.

LSU will now move forward with a midweek game against top 25 Louisiana Tech and the home series finale against Alabama.