Sometimes in a long baseball season, you simply make sure focus is sharp and then go out and take care of business.
When an in-state Division III opponent happens to be in the other dugout, that’s maybe as important as anything else.
No. 6/7-ranked LSU took on Louisiana College on Tuesday in a game plugged into the schedule to replace one rained out against San Diego last week.
And the Tigers came out with that focus on the way to a 13-0 triumph at Alex Box Stadium.
Freshman Zack Hess was spectacular in 6 innings, allowing only one scratch infield single, and the offense got a spark from Beau Jordan and Greg Deichmann early on the way to a comfortable cushion.
Tuesday was the start of a five-game week for LSU (13-4), which plays host to New Orleans at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday before Georgia comes to Baton Rouge to begin SEC play.
LSU broke the seal on the scoreboard right away against LC starter Jacob Buchanan with a three-run 1st inning and it was an inning that typified most of the night: Not a lot of fireworks, but solid execution.
Buchanan hit Cole Freeman with a pitch with one out, Antoine Duplantis walked and Deichmann punched a double to right-center field. Jake Slaughter drove a fly ball to center field for a sacrifice fly and Zach Watson continued his emergence with an RBI single that caromed off of shortstop Jarvis Griffith’s glove.
With the lead, Hess could relax and throw strikes and that wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, he got a jump start on that in the 1st inning and kept plugging away.
Relying on a nasty breaking ball mixed in with a fastball in the high-80/low 90-mph range, Hess tied the Wildcats (13-5) in knots. He logged two strikeouts in each of the first 3 innings, part of a string of 17 batters in a row he mowed down to begin the game.
Griffith squibbed a ground ball past the mound and between third base and shortstop that Josh Smith charged and tried to scoop but couldn’t for Louisiana College’s first hit of the night and only one Hess allowed.
The Tigers’ bats stayed relatively calm for the next several innings, with a pair of two-out RBI singles from Jordan and Nick Coomes supplying the only damage. Those two hits padded LSU’s cushion to 5-0 in the 4th and Freeman chased home another run with a sac fly in the 6th.
Whatever drama remained evaporated in the Tigers’ 7th when the bats finally erupted, while the LC defense crumbled simultaneously.
Deichmann started the final onslaught with his second double of the night, Watson beat out an infield single and Smith walked to load the bases. Jordan’s chopper to third base yielded two runs when he legged it out for a single and Seth Stevens’ throw to first base was off the mark for an error.
Griffith bobbled a routine grounder off the bat of Jordan Romero to plate another run before Kramer Robertson laced a single to left field and Freeman walked to again load the bases.
Duplantis quickly unloaded them when he greeted reliever Courtney Forbes by ramming a double to the gap in right-center to score all three runs for a 13-0 advantage.
All that remained to decide after that was whether the at-times maligned LSU bullpen could hold steady enough for a fifth shutout this season.
Freshmen Will Reese and Nick Bush did their jobs nicely, combining for 3 whitewash innings with only one hit allowed apiece. That duo combined with Hess to log 12 strikeouts out of the 27 recorded.
Now the Tigers turn their focus to UNO, which handed LSU its first loss this season, 11-8 on Feb. 21 with an offensive barrage. The Privateers have floundered a bit since then, going 5-7 and three of the wins came against Alcorn State. Southeastern Louisiana swept UNO last weekend in the Southland Conference opening series for both teams.