An inside-the-park home run won LSU a game on Saturday. Another one broke their hearts a day later.
The Tigers came an out away from winning the series Sunday against Kentucky, until one of the most bizarre plays in baseball gave the Wildcats new life. Kentucky took advantage of that and went on to win 12-10 in 11 innings.
UK pinch-hitter Riley Mahan sent a blooper to left field with two outs in the ninth, trailing by a run. Jared Foster, who replaced an injured Jake Fraley, made a diving attempt at the ball but came up empty.
Alex Bregman tracked it down but slipped as he went to pick it up. That extra delay allowed Mahan to make it all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
“It’s a gut-wrenching loss,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We saw one of the more bizarre plays you’ll ever see…We’re one out away from winning, and inches away from making the catch. It was just the strangest thing I’ve ever seen at that point in a game.”
Kentucky went on to win it with two runs off Parker Bugg in the 11th, including a solo homer to lead off the inning. The Tigers went hitless in extras and dropped their first series of the season.
Sunday’s finale was just the final chapter of a truly odd weekend.
LSU lost the first game Friday in 12 innings, but nearly had a game-winning hit had Conner Hale’s liner not hit Bregman on the bases. The Tigers evened the series on Saturday, thanks to a go-ahead inside-the-park homer by Chris Chinea in the eighth.
But LSU came out on the wrong side of the quirkiness on Sunday.
“Any team can on win on any given day and it could happen any way,” Bregman said. “We saw a lot of things that we don’t usually see this weekend.”
LSU found itself in an early hole after a dreadful outing by starting pitcher Jake Godfrey. He lasted only 1 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs on six hits in the process.
The freshman was previously 2-0 in rubber match starts, but Kentucky got to him early and often.
The Tigers still managed to overcome that early four-run deficit. LSU got two runs in the third and four more in the fifth to go ahead 6-4.
LSU had it 8-5 before blowing that lead in the eighth.
Collin Strall surrendered a single and double to start that inning before coming out for Zac Person. He hit the first batter he faced to load the bases before surrendering a two-run single by 1B Evan White. LF Ka’ai Tom tied it on a fielder’s choice, and another run came in that way to put Kentucky ahead by one.
LSU relievers combined to allow 12 runs this weekend.
The Tigers did come back with two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to regain the lead. Mark Laird and Bregman each drove in a run to make it 10-9 heading to the ninth.
But that’s when disaster struck in the form of an inside-the-park home run.
“There’s always going to be adversity during the season,” Bregman said. “We’re going to bounce back from this. We still have a lot of confidence. It’s just one weekend.”
LSU will get a chance to rinse out the bad taste Tuesday against Louisiana-Lafayette in the Wally Pontiff Classic, held at Zephyrs Field. The Tigers then start a three-game series on the road in Hoover, Ala., on Thursday against Alabama.
“We just have to stay the course,” Mainieri said. “We’ll keep working with them the way we’ve been working with them everyday…We’re only at the midway point of the season. Nobody around here’s quitting, that’s for sure.”
LSU Baseball loses first series of season
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