No. 2 LSU (38-4) entered their matchup with Tulane (20-21) on Wednesday night looking to shake off their recent loss to Alabama over the weekend. The Tigers were able to do just that with their 4-3 victory over the Green Wave. The win also marked the 25th straight victory for LSU over schools from inside the borders of Louisiana.
There wasn't much offense to speak of in the game, as LSU collected seven hits on the night. Tulane added six hits throughout the game, enough to keep the game close between the two squads. LSU coach Paul Mainieri was pleased with what he saw from his team tonight.
"We went out there and played as hard as we could tonight," said Mainieri. We found a way to win tonight, and I'm proud of that. I thought both teams played very well, even though there wasn't a whole lot of hitting. I'm really proud of our team."
Kurt McCune started the game for LSU and went his scheduled two innings in his outing. McCune was extremely effective in those two innings by only allowing one hit and collecting two strikeouts.
Mainieri was very impressed with what he saw from McCune. He explained that he could have extended McCune a little bit, but opted not to so that the right-hander would be available for the upcoming weekend series against South Carolina.
"I thought McCune looked great out there tonight," said Mainieri. "I really wish I could have extended him tonight, but I want him available for the weekend. He is one of those guys that we usually can extend because he has a rubber arm."
LSU sent nine pitchers to the mound tonight, some of which were more effective than others. Following the game Mainieri discussed the lack of control that some of his pitchers displayed tonight.
"Certain pitchers put themselves in bad positions," said Mainieri. "I learned a long time ago that if you don't throw strikes, you don't get outs. We hit a batter and walked a batter and then they get a single that scores two runs. You have to be better than that."
Reliever Kevin Berry was credited with the win for LSU, after he came in with LSU down 2-1 to Tulane. Berry threw two innings, allowing one hit and no runs with two strikeouts.
Offensively, LSU struggled early in the game as Tulane starter Randy LeBlanc kept the Tigers off balance at the plate. LeBlanc finished his outing by going 5.1 innings and allowing four runs on four hits. Mainieri was very complimentary of the efforts of LeBlanc after the game.
"I have to tip my hat to their starting pitcher," said Mainieri. "He threw the ball well and their bullpen threw the ball well."
Senior Raph Rhymes echoed the statements of Mainieri.
"He was locating his pitches really well tonight," said Rhymes. "He can do that with three pitches. He also mixed it up a lot and kept us off-balance."
The one bright spot in the LSU lineup tonight was Rhymes. Mainieri made the decision to drop Rhymes into the fifth spot in the batting order and moved Katz into the cleanup role as a way to produce more runs and eliminate double plays.
After one game with the new lineup, it can be seen that Rhymes benefited from the move tremendously, as he went 3-4 with two crucial RBI for the Tigers. Rhymes explained that it felt great to finally get things back on track tonight.
"My team needed me tonight at the plate," said Rhymes. "It feels great to come through big in a situation like that. Coach thought I might have lost some of my aggression from last season, so I just came out swinging tonight. It feels great."
Senior Mason Katz was also very happy to see Rhymes look like the player that fans were used to seeing last season tonight.
"That was beautiful to see," said Katz. "When Raph can do that, that's when you know when he is about to get hot. It's just great to see."
Katz not only had to deal with a new spot in the batting order tonight, but he also had to adjust to playing a position in the field that he isn't used to. Katz got the start at second for the Tigers tonight and he was pretty successful, according to Mainieri.
"Mason looked good out there," said Mainieri. "He has taken balls at second base all year, and in the fall. I always knew that this was a possibility because he is a very underrated athlete on the diamond."
LSU improved to 38-4 with the victory tonight over Tulane. The Tigers will now prepare for South Carolina to come to town for another SEC series this weekend.
LSU defeats Tulane, 4-3
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