LSU survives Alcorn State, 9-7

LSU came dangerously close Tuesday to one of its worst losses of the Paul Mainieri era. But the Tigers rode three home runs to rally for a 9-7 victory against Alcorn State.

Alcorn State had only won eight games prior to its meeting with No. 5 LSU on Tuesday.

The Braves hadn't defeated a non-conference opponent all season, and their RPI was the seventh lowest in the country. But what unfolded in Alex Box Stadium was proof there's more to the game than numbers.

Alcorn State jumped out to a 6-1 advantage and led by three runs entering the bottom of the eighth. After starting four true freshmen and three other reserves, the Tigers had to put in the starters in the sixth to finally get things going.

That proved to be the spark, as LSU scored eight runs in the final three innings and capitalized on three homers to escape with a 9-7 victory.

"Those kids from Alcorn State played their hearts out tonight," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "They made every play imaginable, and I just have to tip my hat to them. We weren't doing anything wrong. They were just playing lights out."

Trailing 6-1 in the sixth, Jake Fraley pinch-hit for Danny Zardon after Andrew Stevenson and Alex Bregman each reached on errors in their first at-bats. Fraley got just enough to carry a three-run homer over the right fielder's outstretched glove.

"It was huge," Fraley said of his homer. "Everyone was a little down, but not too much because we knew we had it in us to come back at any moment. We just had to turn that switch on."

LSU still trailed though, and after Alcorn got a run back in the eighth, the Tigers were down to just six outs to overcome a three-run deficit.

But the Tiger offense exploded for five runs in the eighth, including the go-ahead home run by Conner Hale.

Fraley started the inning with a one-out hit-by-pitch. Two at-bats later, Tyler Moore drilled a two-out homer into the right field bleachers to make it 7-6. Sean McMullen followed that with a walk, and Christian Ibarra singled to put two on for Hale.

He nearly cleared the left field bleachers with the first pitch he saw for the three-run blast. It was the second time this season LSU had three homers in a game.

"Never give up, you have to play all nine innings," Hale said. "You just have to finish the game, and that's going to give us momentum going into this weekend."

Through the first six innings it seemed like LSU would suffer one of its worst losses of the Mainieri era.

Alcorn State abused Henri Faucheux for five runs in the third inning. The Braves had a pair of hits with one out to bring in a run. Another single and a two-out hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for 1B Ashton Lewis, who cleared them with a double to right-center.

The Braves tacked on one more run in the next at-bat to make it 5-0. They'd finish the night with 16 hits, which is the most LSU has surrendered this season and the most by a non-conference opponent since 2009.

Meanwhile, the LSU reserves struggled to get much going offensively, totaling just three hits through the first five innings. Alcorn State did its part too, making a pair of diving catches in the outfield and several other web gems to hold down the Tiger bats.

"We were pretty lucky it was only 6-1, to be honest with you," Mainieri said. "It could've been worse, and we hung in there and chipped away."

Those young, inexperienced players eventually got the reinforcements they needed, as the starters ultimately came through to secure the win.

"It was one of those nights where everything was going great for them, and everything that could go wrong was going wrong for us," Mainieri said. "But at the end of the day we found a way to win."


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