Paced by its offensive power, the Tigers were able to pour on 10 runs in the first four innings to guide the purple and gold to a 10-7 midweek win over visiting Southeastern.
Because of the struggles that cropped up with the bullpen over the weekend, Mainieri said starter Will Hellmers would likely be on a pitch count to preserve him for this weekend's critical SEC opening series against No. 2 Mississippi State. The freshman cruised through two innings on the mound but ran into trouble in the third, surrendering back-to-back home runs that cut into an early LSU 4-0 lead.
Southeastern was able to make it a 4-3 ball game by inning's end but no movement was made in the bullpen as a result. The three runs were the first runs surrendered by Hellmers as a starter. Instead of letting the back-to-back jacks affect his outing, the freshman Hellmers would respond well to his first adversity in a starting role by throwing a scoreless fourth inning with the game still tight.
Hellmers was also aided by a great start at the plate from the LSU (15-3) offense, a group that combined for 26 runs over the weekend. The Tigers' offense continued its nation leading home run streak at the plate as a four run first inning was headlined by a three run blast from catcher Hayden Travinski, who also made some solid defensive plays behind the plate.
Travinski and third baseman Cade Doughty were phenomenal at the plater, combining for eight of the game's 10 RBI on the evening.
For Travinski, getting the nod at catcher was a long time coming and he took advantage of the opportunity. One of the top recruits back in 2019, he was kept from playing catcher for the last few months due to arm soreness.
"Not being able to catch last year, I was really antsy throughout the entire day today," Travinski said. "It was fun to get out there and show what I can do."
His arm feels good now and considering what he's been able to do with the bat, being able to get those reps at catcher is critical to getting him at bats. But LSU is going to be smart about ramping up his reps at catcher.
"Patience is definitely a virtue to have especially in this sport. You're going to go through tough times," Travinski said. "With as many injuries as I've been through, it's been a learning moment. I can definitely got the nine if needed and we'll get to that point. My body's feeling good and the arm's feeling good.
"It'll be interesting to see how he feels tomorrow," Mainieri added. "He's a tremendous player and a tremendous force offensively and a great catcher as well."
Doughty went 2-for-4 on the evening that included a three run home run to give LSU some separation in the fourth. With his latest performance, Doughty now has eight home runs on the season and fifth in his last four games to go along with a team leading 25 RBI.
It's a good thing that the LSU offense was able to put up the kind of numbers it did because it took all nine hits and all 10 runs for the game to feel comfortably in hand. That's because for the fourth straight game, the LSU bullpen had its struggles.
Ma'Khail Hilliard got hit for three runs in the fifth inning while Theo Millas also surrendered a run in the sixth to make it a too close for comfort 10-7 ball game. Freshman Ty Floyd ran into trouble in the seventh as well but was able to escape with two clutch strikeouts, stranding runners on second and third.
LSU will now prepare for a three game series against No. 2 Mississippi State to start SEC play.
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.