There have been a few weekends to forget for the LSU baseball team in a rollercoaster 2017 season.
A trip to hitter friendly Cliff Hagan Stadium may have jumped to the top of that list, especially for the Tigers’ pitching staff.
Kentucky won the weekend series with a 10-2 victory on Sunday, peppering LSU for 18 hits and all 10 runs in the first 4 innings to remove most of the drama early.
The other side of the equation wasn’t much more appealing for the Tigers (27-14, 10-8 SEC). They managed only 6 hits against Cats’ pitcher Justin Lewis, who logged a complete game. LSU had only two at-bats with runners in scoring position – both in a 2nd inning when it pushed home one run to pull within 4-1.
After that, the Tigers sent more than three batters to the plate only once in the final seven frames: Nick Coomes belted a solo home run with two outs in the 6th inning.
By then, anything LSU managed was like a Band-Aid on a skull fracture.
The first five batters in the Kentucky batting order accounted for 15 hits, all 10 runs and 6 RBIs, buoyed by a four-run 1st inning against Tigers’ freshman Eric Walker, who had been almost untouchable in his last several starts.
The Wildcats (28-13, 12-6) touched Walker plenty on Sunday and put the game out of reach fairly quickly.
Zach Reks and Luke Becker chased in runs with doubles in the 1st inning, which could’ve been much worse had Becker not been nailed trying to steal home with two outs.
Walker navigated the 2nd inning much smoother, but he and the Tigers unraveled in the 3rd. Reks led off with a single and Kole Cottam slammed a two-run home run to left field. Two pitches later Riley Mahan resumed his assault on LSU pitching with a solo bomb and a 7-1 UK advantage.
The final wave of scoring came in the 4th inning on four more hits from the upper half of the Wildcats’ lineup, with Reks (4-for-5, 3 runs, 1 RBI), Cottam (2-for-5, 3 runs, 3 RBIs) and Mahan (3-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs) doing more damage.
There wasn’t much of a silver lining in LSU’s second lopsided loss in three games sandwiched around a 4-3 victory in the second game of a doubleheader on Friday. But senior reliever Collin Strall managed to keep the Wildcats scoreless in the last 3 innings, despite allowing six hits.
Strall twice got out of bases-loaded jams, once with a well-executed 1-2-3 double play and stranded six runners in the process.
For LSU, there isn’t a lot of time to lick its wounds. The Tigers play at Tulane at 7 p.m. Tuesday and then head to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama for three games starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.