Losing a mid-week game on the road isn’t any cause for panic.
Losing it when 14 runners get stranded on base in a game when you collect 12 hits, now that’s case to be downright mad.
LSU fell to McNeese State 5-4 Wednesday at Joe Miller Ballpark, the third loss in four games for the Tigers. And this one was rife with offensive frustration that offset a solid night by the bullpen.
Freshman Josh Smith collected four of LSU’s 12 hits and scored a run in the 9th inning on Chris Reid’s single to close the deficit to one run. But that was as close as the Tigers (9-4) got because the final two at-bats were emblematic of a night of missed opportunities.
Smith kick-started the 9th inning by rolling a single up the middle and Jake Slaughter rifled a double down the right-field line. Reid, who pinch-hit in the 7th and walked, dumped a run-scoring single to left field to ratchet up the drama.
But Cowboys’ reliever Trent Fontenot struck out pinch-hitter Jordan Romero after a 3-and-1 offering painted the black to fill the count and then got Beau Jordan on a tapper over the mound that shortstop Will Fox made a nice scoop-and-throw on for the out.
Those two missed chances left LSU 5-for-17 with runners in scoring position, 2-for-8 after the visitors generated two early runs.
The Tigers played from behind all night because McNeese (9-4) pushed home single runs in each of the first 3 frames against LSU starter Zack Hess.
Matt Gallier got the Cowboys rolling with a two-out RBI double in the 1st inning, Mitchell Rogers launched a leadoff solo home run in the 2nd and McNeese produced another two-out tally in the 3rd when Nate Fisbeck poked a base hit to left-center field to score Dustin Duhon.
LSU hung close, thanks largely to Jordan and Smith producing two-out runs with singles.
The Tigers’ relief corps also played a big role. Austin Bain took the ball from Hess in 3rd inning and stopped the bleeding, and senior Russell Reynolds was flawless in an inning of work.
Todd Peterson allowed a leadoff infield single to McNeese leadoff man Robbie Podorsky, who stole second, moved to third on a bunt and scored on a squeeze bunt by Gallier, the Cowboys’ cleanup man.
The half inning before, LSU had pulled even when Slaughter’s hot shot to Gallier at third base with the bases loaded generated a run. The Tigers never got a chance to knot the score again because Rogers pounded another solo bomb against Caleb Gilbert in the 8th frame for a two-run cushion.
That proved to be just enough, thanks to the last two missed chances. LSU left runners on base in every inning but the 8th, seven in scoring position.
Besides Smith’s career-best night, Freeman was the only other Tiger with multiple hits.
In the first mini slump of the season, LSU heads home for a three-game series against Wichita State, starting at 7 p.m. Friday. The Shockers come in 8-3 after a 4-2 win at Oklahoma on Tuesday, but that came on the heels of getting swept at Louisiana Tech last weekend when WSU surrendered 33 runs.