All it figured to take was one.
One swing. One hit. One delivery in the clutch.
And once LSU got it’s just one, a moribund offense finally came to life Friday.
For one night at least, the Tigers’ lineup was back in a groove with 13 hits and several clutch hits on the way to a 7-4 triumph against Texas A&M at Alex Box Stadium.
The win evened the series at a game apiece and the method was a metaphorical sigh of relief for an LSU team that for most of five games squandered one chance after another.
Antoine Duplantis and Kramer came up with the first swings to get LSU rolling, freshman Josh Smith added a huge two-out hit a few innings later and tack-on runs – which also served as answers to the Aggies’ comeback bid – were provided by back-to-back home runs from Robertson and Greg Deichmann and some timely patience.
Mixed in with the offense getting well, senior Jared Poche was again solid with 7 innings of work when all he surrendered was a two-run home run right before his stint ended.
A&M (18-10, 2-6 SEC) was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position vs. Poche, who stranded five runners at either second or third base on the way to his 6th victory. The Aggies got their first hitter on base in each of the first 4 frames – three to second base with less than two outs – and never made a dent in the scoreboard until Walker Pennington cranked out a two-run homer in the 7th inning.
“Jared Poche was the leader of our team once again,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said after his club improved to 19-9, 5-3 in the SEC. “He doesn’t always make it easy, because it seems as if he’s got runners on base in every inning. … Jared has so much courage. He just fights every step of the way. You can never give up on Jared, because he’s never going to give up on himself.”
And fortunately, the Tigers’ hitters didn’t give up on finding the right balance between early-count aggressiveness and making the Aggies’ relievers work deeper into counts.
After 2 more scoreless innings pushed LSU’s scoring drought to 11 innings, nine-hole batter Zach Watson finally breathed some life into the offense when he smoked a one-out double to left field in the 3rd frame.
Cole Freeman dumped a base hit to right field to put runners on the corners and Duplantis broke the ice when he rolled a single through the left side.
Aggies’ pitcher Stephen Kolek threw a pickoff try away to send Freeman and Duplantis scampering up 90 feet and Robertson chopped a two-run double over third baseman George Janca’s head to push the lead to 3-0.
A&M posed a major threat in its ensuing at-bat when Poche walked cleanup batter Joel Davis, walked Blake Kopesky with one out and then served up a soft liner to left field to Logan Foster to load the bases.
Unfazed, Poche struck out Austin Homan and induced an infield popup against Pennington to Robertson to keep the Aggies off the scoreboard.
Smith padded the LSU lead to 4-0 in the 5th inning on a two-out single. Duplantis began the inning with a single and swiped second, but neither Robertson nor Deichmann could get him home. Smith did with the kind of hit the Tigers have been lacking the last eight days.
“We had several key at-bats and we did what we needed to do win,” Mainieri said. “It was great to see us swing the bats with confidence and get this one in the victory column.”
It took a little more work because A&M found its power stroke late in the game with two-run homers in the 7th and 9th innings – the second came from Cole Bedford with the Aggies down to their final out.
Sandwiched between those blasts, the Tigers put on their own power display when Robertson and Deichmann went back-to-back. Robertson pounded his solo home run three pitches after just missing one down the left-field line.
LSU also produced a run in the 8th inning when Robertson kept the at-bat alive with a two-out single and two A&M relievers issued three consecutive walks, the last to Beau Jordan to force in a run for a 7-2 lead.
Hunter Newman also came up with a bright spot. Out of action for three weeks with a sore back, Newman took over for Poche in the 8th and struck out the side.
The series wraps up at 2:30 p.m. Saturday with Tigers' freshman Eric Walker (3-0, 3.69 ERA) looking for his 4th win against Texas A&M junior Corbin Martin (2-2, 4.07).
INSIDE THE BOX | LSU finally clicks on offense with 13 hits