LSU Baseball: Bullpen and Bats give Tigers Weekend Series Win, Wait What?


After the 7-0 loss on Friday night against Florida, LSU needed to bounce back on Sunday to show that they were indeed one of the top teams in the country. LSU had everything they wanted in front of them. Ryan Eades was taking the mound against an inferior pitcher, Karsten Whitson, of Florida. If Eades could put forth his normal effort, and the LSU bats scratch out a run here and there, the Tigers should take the series.

Its funny how baseball works, unlike football where you can predict up to 90 percent of the game, baseball can something give you a game like we saw on Saturday. Skip Bertman once said a good starter should give you a great performance four out of five starts. For Eades this was his one bad start. Ryan only lasted three innings, completed the last inning after giving up a three run homer to Nolan Fontana. Eades allowed seven hits and seven runs (five earned) in those three innings and when Eades exited, Florida led 7-2.

Most Tiger fans at this point probable decided to enjoy the rest of their Saturday doing something else than watching the Tigers and I would not have blamed them. If you have kept up with this team, you knew coming back from a five run deficit was something LSU didn’t do often. Also, taking into account how dominate the Florida bullpen was, why not go out and enjoy some crawfish and whatever else on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

The only problem with that theory is it didn’t happen. Immediately in the fourth inning, Arby Fields, Jared Foster and Jacoby Jones all scored to close the lead to 7-5. Both teams’ offense went quiet in the fifth and sixth innings, but in the seventh the Tigers scored two more runs to tie the game. With two outs in the seventh, Tyler Moore singled. In the next at-bat, Arby Fields tripled to score Moore. Fields would score on a wild pitch creating a new ball game. LSU would load the bases in the eight inning thanks to singles from Grant Dozar, Mason Katz and Austin Nola. Ty Ross would score Dozar on a sacrifice fly to right field and LSU had completed the comeback to lead 8-7. The bullpen shut the door and LSU won by the same score

Much credit is to be given to the LSU offense, but it was the bullpen that won the game for LSU. Following Florida’s offensive outburst against Eades, only two Gators would reach base the rest of the game. Following Joe Broussard pitching the fourth, Brent Bonvillain came in the fifth and pitched his best game of the year. Bonvillain went four innings and one allowed one hit and walked one while striking out five. Bonvillian started out both the fifth and sixth by allowing the first batter to reach base, but after he walked Vickash Ramjit to start the sixth, Bonvillian retired the next nine batters. Nick Goody would replace Bonvillian in the ninth and put the Gators down in order. If you are scoring at home, LSU’s bullpen faced 17 batters and 15 of those did not reach base. Bonvillain earned the win (2-0) and Goody recorded the save (4).

The bullpen pitched great striking out seven of the seventeen batters faced. The defense finally stopped making silly mental and actual errors and played like one of the best defenses in the country. More importantly, fresh faces stepped up in key spots. The bullpen has been well documented, but two Tigers stepped up huge in the lineup. LSU’s best hitter, Raph Rhymes, was held out of Saturday’s lineup due to a concussed. Alex Edwards initially was put in place of Rhymes, but he was replaced after the first by Arby Fields. Fields had seen limited action in SEC play and was mainly used as a pinch runner. Fields finished the game batting two of four from the plate with a key triple in the seventh inning. He scored twice and drove in a RBI, giving LSU big time production from the bottom third of the lineup. Tyler Moore started at first base in hope to give LSU some production both offensively and defensively that had been lacking all series long. Moore did commit an error in the game, but made up for it at the plate. Moore went four for five and scored the game tying run. The play of these two only shows the potential depth that LSU has in its lineup.

The series win is huge for LSU (obvious statement of the article). Not only do they defeat the top team in the country at their place, but they guarantee themselves first place in the west heading into next weekends series against Alabama. LSU continued playing with the confidence they earned after sweeping Arkansas last weekend and went 5-1 the last two weeks against the number one and three teams. Don’t book your Omaha tickets just yet, LSU still has more than half of their SEC season to play, but being 8-4 after series playing Mississippi State, Auburn, Arkansas and Florida is well ahead of were I saw this team being.

The scary thing is it doesn’t even look like this team has reached its peak yet. Think about it, LSU just won two out of three against the “best” team when their best two pitchers (Kevin Gausman and Eades) pitched their worst game of the year. When was the last time you remember LSU being able to win a series with its offense and bullpen?