Long Beach takes opener over Tigers

LSU's missed offensive opportunities and costly errors allowed Long Beach to ride the arm of starting pitcher Abe Alvarez to an 8-3 win over the Tigers in the series opener between the two schools at Alex Box Stadium.

In a game delayed by weather until Saturday afternoon, the 49ers' starter held LSU to six hits over 6 1/3 innings, and LBSU's relief squad blanked the Tigers rest of the way. The visitors broke open a 1-1 game with two runs in the fifth and another in the sixth.


"The game plan was, if (Alvarez) kept throwing change-ups, to take them," said LSU head coach Smoke Laval. "If he could throw them in the zone, they were going to win the game anyway. We didn't think he  could. But out of the first eleven change-ups he threw, we swung at seven of them."


By the time LSU scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Long Beach had already plated six and went on to add two more in the ninth for insurance.


Second baseman Nick Orlandos, hitting ninth in the Long Beach order, provided the punch for the 49ers offense, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. It was his one-out single in the fifth that gave the 49ers a 2-1 lead, and his double in the sixth extended the advantage to 4-1.


The fifth inning was costly to LSU in more ways than one, as shortstop Aaron Hill had to leave the game after re-aggravating a shoulder injury that had kept him out of action for two weeks. Laval said Hill could play if absolutely necessary but will be held out until next weekend as a precaution.


After Orlandos' run-scoring single, center fielder Jeremy Reed hit a chopper to Hill at short. The ball took a high bounce and squirted straight up from Hill's glove. With a chance to still get Reed at first, Hill threw hard and came up favoring the injury he suffered in the Mercer series. He was fielding a fly ball in the outfield in that game and collided with left fielder Matt Heath, separating his throwing shoulder.


Hill's throw ended up in the LSU dugout, allowing Reed to advance to second and Orlandos to move to third. LSU starter Bo Pettit (L, 1-2) was able to strikeout third baseman Nick Covarrubius for the second out of the inning, but he walked left fielder Chris Wright to load the bases. A walk to first baseman Paul McAnulty made the score 3-1.


Covarrubius led off the seventh with a single and stole second base. With a man out, McAnulty singled in Covarrubius for a three-run Long Beach lead. McAnulty stole second and got to third on the play when LSU catcher Chris Phillips' throw went into center field. Todd Jennings, the 49ers catcher, sacrificed to center field to bring in McAnulty and give LBSU a 6-1 lead.


The Tigers had managed just one hit over the middle innings until left fielder Jon Zeringue ended the skid with a one-out double in the seventh. Phillips came up next and drove in the runner with a single to right center, ending the afternoon for Alvarez (W, 3-0).


Left-hander Chris Demaria took over for Alvarez after the Phillips single and gave up a two-out RBI single to Wally Pontiff that made the score 6-3. The Tigers had a chance for more after J.C. Holt followed Pontiff's hit with a single, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. But with two runners in scoring position, right fielder Sean Barker grounded to short to end the threat.


Four singles in a row to start the ninth allowed Long Beach to pad its lead. Covarrubius and Wright started the inning with back-to-back singles against LSU reliever Brad David and scored on RBI singles from replacement first baseman Mike Hofius and Jennings.


Clay Harris replaced David after the Jennings hit and recorded a double play a struck out pinch hitter Mike Garabedian to end the inning.


Long Beach reliever Neil Jamison, who entered the game to start the eighth inning, faced the minimum to earn his first save of the year.


Shortstop Kevin Randel began the day's scoring with a solo homer in the third. LSU tied the score in the bottom of the third but missed a chance to take the lead. The Tigers loaded the bases with one out, but the second out came when Barker hit into a fielder's choice that tied the game. Designated hitter Eric Wiethorn ended the inning by fliying out to center.

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