The Tigers started four true freshmen against Grambling State and came away with a 6-0 victory to cap off an opening weekend sweep. Jared Poche fired off six scoreless innings in his LSU debut, and Kramer Robertson scored thrice and turned in an impressive defensive performance to propel LSU to victory.
Paul Mainieri. "It was a very successful first weekend for us."
Poche picked up where Aaron Nola and Kyle Bouman had left off. The freshman from Lutcher surrendered just four hits and struck out three batters in his first appearance in a LSU uniform.
Poche never found himself in much trouble Sunday, only allowing three Grambling baserunners to reach scoring position. The visiting Tigers got a man to second with two outs in the second, but Poche's first career strikeout ended the inning.
He surrendered a leadoff double in the sixth followed by a base hit to left-center field to put two on with no outs. But he worked out of that jam as well, getting the next three batters in order to end the threat.
"Everyone's first one is usually a little rough, but I was fortunate enough to have a pretty good outing," Poche said. "I'm just glad it's out of the way."
It was a dominant weekend for the LSU pitching staff as the three starters surrendered just one run in 17 innings. As a team, the LSU pitchers only gave up 15 hits and four runs in the three games this weekend.
Poche made sure to carry that trend.
"There's just something about that kid," Mainieri said. "Not only does he have talent, but he's got that something extra, that lagniappe that it takes to be a great one. Today we got a glimpse of what he's capable of being."
Those LSU pitchers were helped out by a defense whose only error came in the second inning of Sunday's game. More specifically, Robertson was the one that stole the show defensively, with several web gems against Grambling.
Making his LSU debut, Robertson made a nice leaping snag on a sixth-inning liner that saved a run. He also made a nice stop and throw on a grounder up the middle.
But his real highlight came with one out in the third inning.
(Courtesy: Tiger Droppings)
"I was running over there, and I actually thought it was going to go out," Robertson said. "So I slid to avoid a collision with the wall. But as I was sliding, I realized the ball was close to me. I reached my glove out and the ball just fell in there."
Offensively, the Tigers managed six runs on nine hits and took advantage of a couple Grambling miscues to get the win.
LSU opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the second inning. Kade Scivcique got it started with a one-out single, and he moved into scoring position on a Robertson walk with two outs. Andrew Stevenson brought Scivicque in with a single to right, then tried to take second with the next batter at the plate.
The throw beat Stevenson to the bag, and he reverted course to head back to first. Meanwhile, Robertson took off from third and beat an errant throw to put the Tigers up 2-0.
The Tigers tacked on two more with a pair of sacrifice flies in the fourth inning. LSU increased its lead to 5-0 in the sixth courtesy of a walk, wild pitch and throwing error by the catcher.
Chris Chinea gave LSU its final score with a leadoff home run in the seventh. That marked LSU's first of the season and the first of Chinea's career.
"Finally I got that pitch, and I drove it well," Chinea said. "It just got out of the park. Last year, I didn't get to hit one, but this one came early."
The win moves LSU to a perfect 3-0 after the first weekend of the season. LSU will return to action Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Southeastern Louisiana. Cody Glenn is expected to get the start.
"We've got a lot of areas to improve in and continue to get better in," Mainieri said. "Fortunately we didn't play in the SEC, but I think what we did this weekend was good overall. We got the season started and won all the games."