If you missed the LSU baseball series this weekend you should feel really bad. In short, it was the most dramatic weekend series all season long. A vintage weekend at the box that saw LSU fall behind early in all three games, but two of them ended with amazing comebacks in the eight innings.
On Friday night, LSU jumped out to an early lead, but lost it in the fifth inning. Heading into the bottom of the eight, Georgia was clinging onto a 5-4 lead. Austin Nola stepped to the plate and hit a two-run bomb that eventually led to a Tiger 6-5 win.
The Tigers created even more drama on Saturday’s win. After a lethargic seven innings, LSU entered the eighth inning trailing 4-2. LSU loaded the bases in the eighth inning and with no outs, Mason Katz hit a grand slam. The blast helped ring out an ovation not yet heard this year at the Box. With the fans still going crazy, Raph Rhymes followed Katz hitting his third homerun of the season that hit the scoreboard. It marked the first time all season LSU hit back-to-back homers. When the inning completed LSU had scored six runs and held the lead through the ninth to win 8-4.
With the series already wrapped up, Georgia showed a lot of pride winning Sunday’s game 5-3. Georgia used aggressive hitting to score four runs in the fourth inning against Aaron Nola. There was still drama in the air before the game ended. In the bottom of the ninth, LSU loaded the bases with two-outs and Rhymes coming to the plate. Rhymes entered the batters box batting five-for-five with the bases loaded, but his perfect batting would take a hit(unintentional pun). Rhymes would strikeout on a 3-2 pitch (that looked to be a ball) to end the game.
The Sunday loss should not diminish the success the Tigers had on the weekend. The usual formula of dominating pitching from both the starter and pen and scratch out a few runs was not the formula needed to win the series. Instead, LSU had to rely on timely hitting and the big inning to win the series.
On the weekend LSU as a team batted .326 (31/98) and had a .408 (40/98) on-base percentage. The Tigers did hit into four double-plays and now have hit into 23 double-plays in SEC play (leads conference). For the first time all season, LSU used the same players in the batting line-up and looked to have solidified their line-up since the team was riddled with injuries a few weeks ago. Let’s take a look at how each batter performed over the weekend.
Mason Katz should be in contention this week for a few SEC weekly awards. On Saturday alone Katz was three of four from the plate scoring twice, drove in five runs and hit s homerun and double. When Katz is putting up production like this from the plate it makes the middle of the Tiger lineup almost untouchable.
I’m trying not to be overly-negative, but does there need to be some concern with the top of the lineup? Both Jacoby Jones and Arby Fields struggled from the plate. In Jones defense he did hit the ball well, just most of the times they were right to Georgia defenders. Luck for those two the balance of the LSU offense made up for their lack of production, the bottom third of the LSU lineup accounted for 13 of LSU’s 31 hits.
Kevin Gausman once again pitched a gem, but poor defense allowed Georgia additional base-runners and eventually extra runs. Aaron Nola put up his second straight disappointing performance in SEC play. The freshman continues to leave pitches out over the plate and once opposing lineups can measure his speed they tattoo him. Nola cruised through the first three innings of the game, but was tagged for four runs in the fourth. The inning was capped off by a Justin Bryant homerun, the sixth that Nola has allowed in SEC play. Here is a look at the pitching performances by the LSU starters.
Two lines stand out to me, WHIP and opponents’ batting average. All three seem to be on the rise in the categories and it has taken its effect on the LSU defense. The Tigers entered the weekend fourth in the SEC in fielding, but after Sunday’s loss is not ranked seventh. Sure, we could just simple say they pitchers didn’t have their “A” game, but I just think it is something to keep you eye on heading into the Ole Miss series.
On thing that stayed constant was the LSU bullpen. In 11.1 inning of work they only allowed six hits, one earned run and struck out nine to one walk. The unit scored a 0.62 WHIP and limited Georgia to a .138 batting average. Take a look at the individual performances by the bullpen.
Overall the weekend proved that LSU has a very versatile team that can win in a variety of ways. Heading into the weekend, LSU was only 1-7 in games where they were trailing after six innings. Need to correct that record to 3-7 now. The series win give LSU a four game lead over Ole Miss heading into a huge weekend showdown in Oxford; Though the series isn’t that big thanks to the Rebels losing its weekend series the in-state rival Mississippi State.