Junior Matty Ott nailed down his LSU record-tying 29th career save and LSU (9-0) stayed undefeated against Mississippi Valley State, winning 10-8.
The visiting Delta Devils entered the game winless on the season in eight tries. A season-low crowd of 3,563 didn’t bother the visitors as LSU struggled time and time again to put the game away.
“They played a great game,” said sophomore Mason Katz. “They were a real scrappy team, and they were never going to give up.”
The Tigers, themselves, used 10 singles, a pair of squeeze bunts, six steals and a homerun to post the 10 spot.
“The biggest thing going into the game is you want your players to think that it’s going to be a close ballgame,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It gets their attention when you call a sacrifice bunt or a squeeze bunt, and they realize that they have to do the little things that it takes to win games.”
The game showed signs of a snoozer at the outset.
After a perfect first inning from starter Daniel Bradshaw, LSU rocked MVSU starter Eric Dowell for six first-inning runs on six RBI singles.
With the starting pitching LSU has gotten in every game this season, that figured to be more than enough.
Not on this night.
The Delta Devils answered the bell and scored three runs in the second inning, the big blow coming from first baseman Derek Wallace. Wallace sent an 0-1 Bradshaw offering over the left field fence to cut the Tiger lead to three.
Mason Katz’s second RBI gave the Tigers a 7-3 lead, but the visitors from the SWAC came right back.
Back-to-back doubles to lead off the MVSU third chased Bradshaw, the first Tiger starter of the season not to complete the fifth inning, and Luke Walker’s two-RBI single off of Jimmy Dykstra closed the gap to two.
Bradshaw, fighting to keep up with the Tiger starters that have dazzled so far, allowed five runs on six hits in two and 1/3 innings.
“He threw a lot of pitches down the middle of the plate, and they put the bat on them,” Mainieri said. “He’s a strike thrower, and unfortunately he doesn’t have overpowering stuff.”
A wild pitch plated Mikie Mahtook in the fourth, but, once again, MVSU answered.
Kylie Ming led off the Delta Devil fifth with a single, stole second and scored on a double play ball, keeping the MVSU hope alive.
LSU mixed it up to score a pair in the bottom half of the fifth.
First, JaCoby Jones blistered a line drive over the left field bleachers for his third home run of the year.
Trey Watkins went another route.
Watkins singled, stole second and third, and scored on a Tyler Hanover safety squeeze to increase the Tiger led to 10-5.
Nick Rumbelow replaced Dykstra in the seventh after three and two-thirds innings of one-run relief.
Wallace reached on an Austin Nola error, and Curtis Ford walked on four pitches. Ming sacrificed the runners in to scoring position. Both would score, Wallace on a groundout and Ford on a single by Scott Hornstra.
Chris Cotton retired MVSU in order in the eighth, setting the stage for Ott to make Tiger history.
Ott tossed a perfect inning, outside of MVSU coach Doug Shanks’ ejection, to record his second save of the season and 29th of his career, tying Rick Greene for the all-time LSU record.
“It’s a great honor,” Ott said. “Rick’s been supporting me the whole time. It’s something that I’ll never forget.”
The night truly came full circle as Greene’s son tossed out the first pitch just two and a half hours before Ott caught up with his dad in the record books.
“It’s kind of ironic with Rick’s son throwing out the first pitch today,” Ott said. “His son even messaged me on Facebook saying ‘I hope you beat the record.’”
Ott will have that chance when Princeton opens their season at the Box Friday night at 7 p.m.
Freshman right-hander Kurt McCune (2-0) will get his shot at a Friday night start against the visitors from the Ivy League. Kevin Gausman (1-0) will go Saturday and Ben Alsup (2-0) will take the ball on Sunday.