LSU (27-2, 8-1) entered tonight on an eight game winning streak when they faced Alcorn State (6-27). The contest between the two squads was much closer for most of the game than most fans would have liked for a midweek contest. LSU turned it on late to come out with a 7-3 victory after trailing for the first half of the game.
The slow start by the Tigers surprised most people in attendance, especially Paul Mainieri. Given the way the Tigers played over the weekend and the practice they had on Monday, Mainieri was expecting his squad to come out hitting on all cylinders because of a lack of distractions facing his players.
"The best thing about that game is that it is over and in the win column," said Mainieri. "Some games are just hard to play, especially when we are coming off of an emotional weekend like we had in Missouri. I thought we would be ready to play because of no school this week and we had a great workout yesterday."
One reason for the slow start by LSU tonight was the early ineffectiveness by starter Russell Reynolds. Reynolds allowed homeruns in the first and second innings, leaving the Tigers trailing 3-1 after two innings.
"We just got off to a bad start tonight," said Mainieri. "The starting pitching struggled a little bit when we gave up the homerun and then had a two out walk. We also let a guy steal because we couldn't execute a pitch out correctly."
The bad outing by Reynolds is something that didn't surprise Mainieri, just based off of what he had seen out of the talented freshman in preparation for the game. The small things that Reynolds did wrong were what stood out to Mainieri in the game.
"We aren't sure that we got Russell prepared for this game tonight," said Mainieri. "His side work wasn't very clean all week and we weren't totally surprised that he didn't pitch well tonight."
"His two out walk and pitchout miscue were the most upsetting things for me in this game tonight."
Freshman Hunter Devall was called upon after Reynolds was pulled following the second inning. Mainieri explained that the performance for Devall tonight was crucial for the Tigers to claim a victory.
"The key to the game was Hunter Devall coming into the game and doing a super job for us with four shutout innings," said Mainieri. "He allowed us to come back and tie the game up and eventually take the lead."
Not only did Devall hold the Braves in check for four innings, but he also allowed for LSU to conserve pitching that they will need to rely on for the rest of the week.
"I was hoping to get through seven innings with a combination of Reynolds and Devall," said Mainieri. "Devall could have gone one more, but I didn't want to push him. That was critical for us to be able to get some other guys some work in and save some arms for later in the week."
Offensively, LSU turned it on a couple of innings into the game. The Tigers scattered 14 hits on the night and hit a lot of balls hard that were caught by the Alcorn State defense. They did suffer from a bit of a slow start due to an effective performance by the starter for the Braves, Mundo Sanchez, according to senior Raph Rhymes.
"He kept us off balance all night," said Rhymes. "He was able to pound the zone and mix his pitches up really well tonight. He had all three pitches working for him tonight."
Rhymes led LSU at the plate, as he finished the night by going 2-5 with three RBI and one mammoth homerun. According to Rhymes, the homerun that he hit that made contact with the scoreboard was as hard as anyone will ever see him hit a ball.
"That is as hard as I can hit a ball," Rhymes said with a laugh. "You'll probably never see that from me again, but I didn't even see where it landed."
Senior Casey Yocom got the start at second base tonight in place of usual starter JaCoby Jones. Yocom certainly did not disappoint as he finished the game by going 2-3 with an RBI single.
"I thought some guys had some really good at bats and got us back into the game," said Mainieri. "Casey Yocom had a great game at the plate and in the field for us."
Alex Bregman also extended his multi-hit game streak to nine tonight with a 2-5 performance, in addition to extending his overall hitting streak to 17 games. Bregman also scored two runs in the game. Mason Katz added to the LSU production as well with a 2-2 night with two walks and one run scored.
The Tigers will now take on Southern Mississippi tomorrow night in New Orleans for the Wally Pontiff Jr. classic before Kentucky travels to Alex Box Stadium to continue SEC play for LSU.
LSU defeats Alcorn State 7-3
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