LSU outslugs ULL, 8-6, in Pontiff Classic

LSU clubbed eight extra-base hits Tuesday against Louisiana-Lafayette to beat the Cajuns, 8-6, in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Classic.

METAIRIE — LSU’s first batter Tuesday against Louisiana-Lafayette laced a double down the left line. That was just the beginning.

The No. 4 Tigers finished with eight extra-base hits to help beat the Cajuns, 8-6, in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Classic at Zephyr Field. LSU belted three homers, four doubles and a triple to outslug ULL, who did not go down quietly despite facing a big hole early in the game.

LSU (25-5) led 8-2 entering the seventh, but the Cajuns (15-12) would score four runs that inning to cut the deficit to just two. ULL had the game-tying run at the plate in the ninth, but ultimately came up short to seal the win for LSU.

"[ULL] never quit,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We thought we had the game in hand, and they just kept fighting back. You give a lot of credit to their coaching staff and players. I thought it was just a great ballgame."

LSU’s offensive outpouring started early.

Jared Foster opened the game with that double to left. He scored after a sacrifice fly by Alex Bregman. Conner Hale followed that with a double of his own, and he came in after a base hit by Kade Scivicque.

The Tigers tacked on four more runs in the next two innings. Chris Chinea hit a solo shot to lead off the second, his first “outside-the-park” home run of the season. LSU scored three in the third on an RBI-triple by Bregman and a two-run homer to straight center field by Scivicque.

LSU added a run in each of the fourth and sixth innings, both driven in by Bregman on a double and home run. That solo blast in the sixth brought him within a single of the cycle, but he was left on deck in the eighth after Mark Laird grounded into a double play.

Bregman went only 2-for-14 over the weekend against Kentucky, though several of those outs were hard liners. He’s happy to have a night like Tuesday.

“That’s the best part about baseball. You could square it up every time, and no one is going to hit 1.000,” Bregman said. “You’ve got to stay loose, have fun and not press. This is the best I’ve swung the bat in my life.”

Despite all that offense though, ULL made it plenty interesting late.

The Cajuns evened the game 2-2 in the second thanks to a rough outing by LSU starter Kyle Bouman. He lasted only 1 1/3 innings, walking three of the 10 batters he faced. He left the game after walking in two runs.

Russell Reynolds replaced him and managed to escape the jam with a line drive double play.

He went four straight innings after that without allowing a hit. The roughest inning for him came in the third, when he hit a batter and walked a pair with two outs. But he got out of that one after stopping a sharp shot back to the mound.

“It felt good to get out of that and after that I settled down and let the defense make plays,” Reynolds said. “It was a big relief settling in finally. One of the best games I’ve had this season.”

Reynolds did give up two hits to start the seventh, his final inning of work, and both of those runners would come around to score. But Reynolds still finished with the win, his second of the season.

“He was the key to the game for us,” Mainieri said. “He gave us a chance to win. It looked like it was going to be a slugfest, but if it wasn't for Russell, who knows?"

The night wasn’t quite as positive for Collin Strall.

He entered for Reynolds with two on and nobody out in the seventh. He gave up an RBI-single, hit a batter, and the only out he recorded came on a sacrifice fly. Doug Norman came in for him, and allowed both of the runs to score, which were credited back to Strall.

He’s now allowed two runs in each of his last three appearances after going 10 straight scoreless innings to start the season.

But after ULL cut the deficit to 8-6 in the seventh, Norman and Jesse Stallings combined to close out the Cajuns. Stallings faced the minimum in the ninth thanks to a stellar double play started by Bregman, and earned his 11th save of the season, five shy of the team record.

LSU will face a quick turnaround, starting a three-game series with Alabama on Thursday. The Tigers will ride on a bus through the night to Hoover, Ala., where the Crimson Tide are playing home games this season while their stadium is renovated.

The teams will play their three games at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, home of the SEC Tournament.

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