For the last 24 hours, there's not much LSU coach Paul Mainieri has thought about than Tony Robichaux. The Tigers coached by Mainieri and Rajun Cajuns under Robichaux was an in state rivalry for many years, offering many competitive and entertaining games.
Wednesday night offered another exciting matchup in the in-state rivalry series as the Tigers came away with a 11-2 win thanks to stellar pitching from some young arms and converting on early mistakes from the Rajun Cajuns.
This game was decided early by costly errors on behalf of the Rajun Cajuns that the Tigers were able to capitalize on. A total of three errors over the first two innings helped LSU (3-1) take an early 3-0 lead, headlined by the first hit of the season from second baseman Cade Doughty that scored two runs to give the Tigers some early breathing room.
The Tigers would score six runs, most of which came off of five errors from ULL. LSU's bottom of the order really picked it up as Gavin Dugas, Jordan Thompson and Alex Milazzo accounted for three of the first four runs scored. Freshman Brody Drost entered the game in a pinch hitting situation and absolutely crushed a two run homerun to add insurance runs on an already big lead.
Dugas led the way with three hits as the Tigers combined for 14 total hits on the evening.
"As the game went on we had some really good at bats and I just can't get Drost's homerun out of my mind," Mainieri said. "Really a total team effort by everybody, it was fun to win a game on the road against a really good team."
If there's one area to still critique the offense, it's the amount of runners that are being left on base. The Tigers left two on base in the first, two in the third and the bases loaded in the sixth with a chance to really blow the game open.
Nevertheless, most importantly, the team was able to capitalize on the ULL mistakes in the early innings, which really helped starting pitcher Garrett Edwards.
"Giving those guys the early the lead really allowed them to just go out there and challenge the hitters," Mainieri said.
The freshman was solid in his first career start, retiring the first seven batters he faced with great command of both his fastball and offspeed pitches in the first two innings. Edwards ran into some trouble in the third inning by allowing a solo home run and loading the bases.
But like a seasoned vet, Edwards didn't panic. Through some struggles with his command, the freshman right hander was able to come through with two clutch strikeouts to keep it a 4-1 ball game after three innings.
Edwards night would end after three innings with Mainieri electing to go with fellow freshman Will Hellmers for relief. After a three error opening weekend at third base, Hellmers was dominant on the mound.
He retired all six batters he faced in the fourth and fifth innings, mixing up his pitches between a 92 mph fastball and 74 mph offspeed pitch. It was great to see especially after the struggles he had over the weekend.
The defense has also looked much better over the last two games as well as first baseman Tre Morgan continues to make some outstanding plays at first base and the left side of the infield of Arnold and Thompson have yet to make a mistake. When the Tigers got into a bases loaded scrape in the eighth inning, closer Devin Fontenot stepped up big time by making a clutch catch lined back at him and turning a double play with the bases loaded.
"That ball was just scorched at me and it's just instinct to turn the double play right there," Fontenot said. "It was a big situation, didn't let the pressure get to me. I think it got the momentum back on our side."
LSU now has a few days to prepare for a weekend series against Youngstown State starting Friday.