It didn’t take long for the LSU bats to wake up Tuesday night.
Coming off an offensive slump against Appalachian State this weekend when LSU managed just one run in the final two games of the series, the Tigers scored – and scored a lot – against in-state foe Grambling State.
Thanks to a strong offensive showing, No. 13-ranked LSU defeated Grambling 17-10 to snap a two-game losing streak in front of a sparse crowd at Alex Box Stadium.
The game featured 27 runs and 34 hits in 3 hours and 19 minutes of play, with the only scoreless innings coming in the first and ninth frames.
“I told their coach after the game that I’m glad we took a breath after that final out in the ninth inning,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “We had a good offensive night, but our pitching struggled. You never know what you’re going to get in these mid-week games, but we obviously need to pitch better than that on a regular basis. You can’t expect to score 17 runs all the time.”
Lefthander Cody Glenn took the mound for his first career start and through the first inning looked the part. The freshman from Houston struck out the first four Grambing batters he faced. However, Grambling (5-3) scored first in the second inning off a Hector Mejias’ shot to deep-center.
LSU (6-2) responded with a six-run second inning. The Tigers loaded the bases after back-to-back walks by Grambling starting pitcher Joel Deleon and a well-executed Casey Yocom bunt down the third-base line.
Ty Ross then popped up the Deleon pitch to shallow right field where Brian Knuckles committed a fielding error, which allowed Yocom to score. Arby Fields, Jared Foster, JaCoby Jones (3-6, 2 RBIs) and Raph Rhymes all contributed with RBIs in the inning, to give LSU a 6-1 lead.
“(Rhymes) hit some balls really hard,” Mainieri said. “It’s good to see Raph do that. We’re going to need for him to do that. A lot of guys swung the bat well. It was a good thing for us.”
Yet, Grambling responded against the youngster Glenn and added three runs to cut LSU’s lead to 6-4 after three innings. Chris Wolfe reached on a line-drive up the middle and stole second base – his eighth steal of the season – to advance in scoring position.
Darren Farmer brought Wolfe home with a single, followed by an RBI double from Thomas Brown III (2-4, 3 RBIs). Elias Todman ripped a shot past Glenn as Brown came around to score.
Glenn’s night on the mound was finished in the third, as he went 3 1/3 innings striking out 6 while allowing 8 hits and 4 runs.
“He threw an awful lot of strikes, which is what we were concerned about,” Mainieri said. “We thought he would be overacting and be that young wild left-hander, but he wasn’t. That was a very positive thing.”
Despite brief offensive surges by Grambling, it was the bats of LSU that was the story.
Along with the second inning, LSU added four in the fourth – two more RBIs from Rhymes, who finished the night with career-highs with 4 hits and 6 RBIs, when he drove the ball through the middle of the Grambling defense as Foster and Jones scored.
Rhymes wasn’t the only Tiger to have a career night. Foster, the 6-foot, 185-pound designated hitter, turned in his best performance of his short career hitting 3-for-6 with an RBI.
“I just try and come in and do my job and do my role on the team,” Foster said. “It means a lot coming in as freshman and being able to contribute to the team like this. I’m excited to be here in front of the best crowd in college baseball.”
LSU took a commanding 11-4 lead after the fifth inning, but Grambling did not fold, erupting for four runs in the top of the sixth.
Knuckles started the inning with a single past Yocom and was driven home when Rhymes made a throwing error on a Jose Longoria double down the first-base line. Joe Broussardwalked Wolfe, who stole his second base of the night, and O.J. Simmons III hit a blooper to shallow right field that scored two runs.
Brown III capped off the inning for Grambling with an RBI single to right that brought Simmons III in to score.
“They sure scared us a lot (Tuesday), didn’t they?” Mainieri said. “They were scrappy, they were tough and a very inspired Grambling team.”
Added Foster: “They came in and were swinging the bat pretty well. They fought pretty hard at the plate. I was impressed at their approach.”
LSU finished strong with the bats still sizzling, scoring three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings.
LSU will leave the comfort of Alex Box Stadium for the first on the season and travel to Lake Charles for a 6:30 p.m. start Wednesday against McNeese State.