Baton Rouge – LSU coach Paul Mainieri cited clutch hitting, or a lack thereof, as a determining factor in LSU’s weekend sweep at the hands of Arkansas.
Tuesday night, it was Northwestern State’s clutch hitting that doomed LSU (21-12) in a 5-2 defeat at Alex Box Stadium.
The Demons drove in four runs with two outs, and Mason Melotakis dominated Tiger hitters, striking out 10 over four scoreless innings to preserve the Northwestern State win.
“It was just fastballs. That’s all he threw me,” said Mason Katz, who fanned twice against the Demon lefty. “He’s just real deceptive. You couldn’t pick it up until it was half way there, and then it’s by you.”
The loss is LSU’s fourth straight, equaling the Tigers’ worst stretch of the season.
Raph Rhymes launched his second home run of the year, a two-run job in the third to give LSU the lead, but the Demon bats answered with three runs of their own in the fourth, the last two coming on a two-run double by Stephen Gandy off of Tiger starter Ryan Eades.
Those three runs ended Eades’ (1-1) first collegiate start.
Junior Tyler Jones took over for Eades in the fifth and surrendered a two-out RBI single to Colin Bear, scoring Justin Martinez, who walked to open the inning.
“It’s seems like it’s happened all year, three out of their five runs scored via the walk or hit batter,” Mainieri said. “Their coach comes into the game telling me they can’t get a clutch hit. They bang out three or four. In the first few innings we had a few opportunities.
“It’s frustrating, but it would be more frustrating if the kids weren’t trying.”
Mikie Mahtook, Austin Nola and Katz, three-four-five in the Tiger order, combined for 1-of-12 hitting with seven strikeouts and four men left on base.
With the Demon lead at 4-2, Nick Hinojos dropped a two-out RBI single to centerfield to score Will Watson, who was hit by a Joe Broussard curveball and balked to second base.
The three-run cushion was more than enough for Melotakis, who nailed down Northwestern State’s first win against LSU since 2001.
“That kid, quite frankly, just blew us away,” Mainieri said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
LSU’s next chance to stop the bleeding comes Wednesday night against Alcorn State. The Hornets are 12-19 on the year.