Alex Box has waited all season for the kind of roars that generally come with an LSU baseball game. There have been moments this season where it's felt like a baseball experience in the Box but never a whole game.
So in the fourth inning, with the bases loaded and one out in the inning, when right fielder Mitchell Sanford threw a ball on a string to home plate to record one of the most pivotal outs of the evening, it felt, dare we say, normal. The play was critical in a tightly contested game, one that LSU desperately needed and would eventually secure 2-1.
"We made a couple of big defensive plays and kept them scoreless. Mitchell made a tremendous throw there," coach Paul Mainieri said. "He's had a couple of plays where he's caught the ball and had trouble getting it out of his glove. As soon as I saw the short flyball, I instantly remembered that but this time he had a smooth transfer and was an enormous play.
"It was great to hear the crowd react like they did and all night they were just electric. It felt like old times here at the Box, it was so much fun to hear the crowd be so into the game."
Starter Landon Marceaux may not have had his best stuff on Friday night but he made pitches when they counted most to keep the Crimson Tide at arms length. He surrendered 11 hits on the night, a season high, but allowed no runs to come across as timely strikeouts and defensive plays like the one Sanford made in the fourth kept a low scoring game in LSU's favor.
He stranded 10 runners on base for the evening and was somehow able to claw his way out of allowing three hits in each of the fourth and fifth innings with no damage in under two out situations.
"A lot of bloopers over our first and second baseman's head, in that Bermuda Triangle of right field," Marceaux said. "I was able to gut it out. It was tough but I think tonight was a total team effort. Big clutch plays and I'm proud of our guys that we got the job done today."
While Marceaux was battling through every kind of base trouble, the LSU offense was having a difficult time just getting on base. The Tigers came out with something to prove as the first four batters of the game put good swings on the ball, leading to three hits and a run in the first inning.
Gavin Dugas, the team leader in RBI, picked up No. 53 on the season with a sac fly to deep left field but the offense ran out of steam over the next five innings. In those five innings, LSU only put two runners on base, going three up, three down in three of the innings to keep the pressure on Marceaux and the defense.
Marceaux would last one out into the seventh inning with a runner on first, capping off another dominant performance in a completely different way for the purple and gold. Closer Devin Fontenot would come in to force an inning ending double play to close the seventh and but would allow one run to come across in the eighth on an RBI triple but come through with a scoreless ninth.
The offense finally put together something positive as a walk to Cade Beloso was followed by another timely hit from second baseman Drew Bianco, a double that would bring in a much needed insurance run for the Tigers to secure the win.
It had all the makings of a great college baseball game and the Alex Box faithful were there every step of the way.
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.