LSU rallies to complete sweep of Kansas

LSU had to battle back Sunday to complete its sweep of Kansas. The Tigers used a four-run sixth inning to overcome a sloppy day defensively and pull out the 7-4 win.

LSU trailed Sunday for the first time this season but overcame that deficit to complete its sweep of Kansas with a 7-4 victory at Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers trailed 4-3 entering the bottom of the sixth but exploded with a four-run outburst to regain the lead for good. LSU had five hits that inning, including a pair with two outs. It was part of a 12-hit effort on the heels of a big seven-run inning in the previous game.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri said his team’s starting to show better at the plate after more sluggish performances on Friday and Saturday.

“Not every game is played perfectly according to script,” Mainieri said. “But at least we started to show the offense we need to be.”

Jake Fraley got it started with a leadoff single through the right side. Mike Papierski, making his first collegiate start, advanced him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Bryce Jordan walked and Chris Sciambra lined a shot past the first baseman to tie it 4-4.

Mark Laird put LSU ahead in the next at-bat, dropping a single into center field to score Jordan.

LSU added two more runs on an RBI-single apiece by Conner Hale (his third of the game) and Chris Chinea.

“We were just stringing together hits to hits,” Hale said. “We have one of the best hitting teams in the country. We’re doing really good right now, and we hope to keep it going.”

LSU found itself in that hole after some sloppy defense in the early going. The Tigers committed four errors Sunday leading to three unearned runs for the Jayhawks.

Hale was the culprit on two. Bregman committed one on a failed barehand attempt and Jordan made an errant throw on his first collegiate fielding opportunity.

That error by Jordan contributed to a two-run second inning that saw Kansas take the lead. After a leadoff walk in that inning, Jordan threw wide of first in the next at-bat, allowing Michael Tinsley to score. A wild pitch later in the inning brought in the second run.

That put the Jayhawks ahead 2-1 after LSU struck for a run in the bottom of the first, an RBI-groundout by Hale.

Kansas would add another run to its lead in the fourth when Blair Beck took LSU freshman Jake Godfrey deep to left field for a solo homer. That was the only earned run surrendered by LSU starting pitchers this weekend.

Godfrey’s debut wasn’t quite as electric as his classmate Alex Lange’s the day before. Godfrey went 3 2/3 innings, but only surrendered two hits. He gave up three runs, but only one was earned and he struck out three. He did also walk three and struggled with his command at times, leading to his early exit.

“Godfrey didn’t throw that poorly,” Mainieri said. “We didn’t give him much help defensively. He only gave up a couple of hits, and I thought he did OK. He maintained his poise, and it’s something to build on.”

LSU did come back to tie it 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth. Sciambra drew a leadoff walk, and Laird singled behind him. Bregman drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to right, and Hale evened it with the second of his three RBI.

But Kansas would jump back in front the next half-inning to set up LSU’s rally.

Russell Reynolds, making his first LSU appearance since 2013, gave up a one-out single in the sixth and hit the next batter. A fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, and Bregman committed an error on the next play to allow the run.

LSU would regain the lead with its next offensive inning though, and the bullpen came through the rest of the way.

After the single Reynolds surrendered in the sixth, the LSU relievers allowed only one base runner through the final 3 1/3 innings. That included perfect innings from Zac Person and Jesse Stallings, who earned his second save of the season.

The win Sunday gives LSU another perfect weekend to start the season. The Tigers haven’t lost a game in an opening series since 2008. The Tigers return to action Wednesday against Nicholls State, and freshman Doug Norman’s expected to make his debut on the mound.

LSU will hope to keep the good vibes going after the first weekend of the season.

“I thought it was a good, solid win today, despite the fact we didn’t play great in some areas,” Mainieri said. “And obviously I’m pleased with the sweep of the series.”

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