It's hard to imagine how No. 7 LSU would feel fortunate to come out victorious in its 9-3 victory against Nicholls State on Wednesday.
But when the Colonels (9-9) racked up five errors, and the Tigers (16-1) totaled 13 hits but failed to finally break open the game until the eighth inning, it's easier to fathom why LSU coach Paul Mainieri let out a big sigh of relief after the final out. Most might consider Wednesday's midweek tilt a blip on the radar compared to the SEC opener against Mississippi State this weekend, and Mainieri admitted his team might have as well.
"This was certainly a trap game for us. There's no question about it," Mainieri said. "Not only did we play like it was a trap game, it felt like one four hours before game time. I was nervous as could be."
The game had fans on edge through most of the contest as LSU trailed after the fifth, and brought a one-run lead into the eighth inning. The Tigers finally put it away with a five-run outburst, courtesy of a two-run double by Alex Bregman, a sacrifice fly by Raph Rhymes and a two-run homer by Mason Katz — his sixth.
"At the very end we had some good at-bats, which I thought was great," Mainieri said.
The night had an ominous start as Alex Bregman lined into a triple play to end the first inning, erasing an early threat.
"I have no clue if I've ever hit into a triple play before, but that was pretty interesting," Bregman said. "I thought I hit that pretty well actually. It just happened to be right at him."
But LSU bounced back to take an early 2-0 lead in the second. LSU racked up four straight hits to open the frame, including an RBI-single by Christian Ibarra, and a run scored on an error by Nicholls LF David Zorn.
"At the beginning of the game, we didn't put together as good of at-bats as we should have," Bregman said. "But later in the game, we put together good at-bats, and a win's a win."
LSU also got two strong innings from freshman Russell Reynolds, who only allowed a hit in his first career start.
But the game started going south in the third when Nicholls followed a leadoff double with a pair of sacrifices to cut the LSU lead in half. The Colonels took the lead in the fifth off Hunter Devall, plating a pair on four hits in the inning.
"A couple pitchers did OK. Not many, but a couple," Mainieri said.
The LSU offense responded in the bottom half of the frame thanks to a RBI-single by Katz, his first of three in the game. The Tigers had the chance to score more, but Bregman was thrown out trying to score from second on a hard-hit single by JaCoby Jones.
The Tigers regained the lead in the seventh after Bregman led off the inning with a single, then advanced to second on a Rhymes grounder to third. A wild pitch sent Bregman to third and he scored on a hit by Ibarra.
After Devall's exit after the fifth, six more LSU pitchers combined to close out the Colonels, holding Nicholls hitless through the final four frames.
LSU returns to action Friday in Starkville, Miss., facing Mississippi State to open SEC play.
No. 7 LSU survives Nicholls, 9-3
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