It was a game LSU thought it'd won but it took a walkoff home run from Cade Doughty to do the trick. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Doughty stepped to the plate and with the count at 2-2, blasted his second homerun of the season over the left field wall for a 5-3 walkoff win.
Those moments have become synonomous with LSU greats of the past and was part of a 3-for-5 day for the sophomore second baseman.
"It was very exciting, those kind of wins do a lot for a young team," coach Paul Mainieri said. "I've been here 15 years and I've had the chance to watch a lot of kids have those types of experiences. It's wonderful and things these kids will never forget. This is what's so awesome about playing at LSU and it's something he'll treasure forever."
After a disappointing start to the 2021 season, starting pitcher AJ Labas was chomping at the bit to get back out to the mound. Labas surrendered five earned runs and 11 hits against a red hot Louisiana Tech team a week ago and appeared to be on a similar track in the first inning of his second outing against Youngstown State.
The Penguins were able to load the bases on the junior right hander with one out in the first inning but like a calm, collected veteran, Labas responded. He picked up a clutch strikeout and groundout to get out of the first unscathed.
That sequence appeared to settle Labas down a bit and he came out with much better command and dominated his way through five scoreless innings on the mound, throwing six strikeouts in the process.
"That first inning I just didn't think AJ was in a very good rhythm at all," Mainieri said. "He got out of that jam and then I thought he really found a good groove.
"That was a huge win for us and it was just one of those days where a bunch of guys really stood up," Labas said. "After that first inning I really settled down and made sure everything was smoother."
It was a good thing that Labas was so dominant on the mound as the LSU offense wasn't able to generate much offense the first half of the game. The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first thanks to three straight hits from the top of the order.
First baseman Tre Morgan went 3-for-4 on the day while Doughty and catcher Jake Wyeth all had productive at bats, accumilating multiple hits on the afternoon. The Tigers were putting good swings on the ball but just not finding many holes.
Morgan's third hit of the day proved most critical as the freshman was able send a blooper into centerfield that put the Tigers up 3-1 in the seventh.
The offense really had to rely on its arms and after Labas, coach Paul Mainieri utilized plenty of arms out of the bullpen. Perhaps most impressive was freshman Will Hellmers, who made his Alex Box debut on the mound and went two innings, allowing one run and striking out two batters.
"I thought Will came in and did a tremendous job," Mainieri said. "He could've kept going but when one runner got on base I thought it was time to bring on Devin."
That makes two really impressive relief outings for the freshman and his role should only expand as he earns more reps as a pitcher. Closer Devin Fontenot was brought in to record the four out save but took a while to record the eighth inning's final out.
Fontenot walked two batters and allowed two hits, giving the Penguins the requisite offense to tie the game going into the ninth.
The Tigers are back at 6:30 with the second half of their double header, this time against Nicholls State.
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.