In a game that featured starting pitchers who also hit for themselves in the lineup, Tulane's Michael Aubrey kept LSU's young hitters guessing with a mixture of curves, fastballs and change-ups to earn his second win of the season. In addition to going 2-for-4 at the plate, Aubrey threw 5.2 innings and allowed nine hits, five walks and all five Tiger runs.
Relief pitcher Joey Charron went the rest of the way for No. 22 Tulane (9-5) and continued to keep LSU (10-5) off pace with his junk balls. He collected his third save of the year.
Clayton Harris started the game for LSU and hit in the fifth spot in the lineup. The freshman from Slidell recorded eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings but wasn't able to spread out the ten hits Tulane logged against him.
"When you don't get the outs that they give you and you have a young pitcher up there," sooner or later they're going to get to you," said LSU coach Smoke Laval.
Harris, 1-for-5 at the plate, aided his own cause with an RBI double to left field in the first inning. It gave LSU a 3-0 lead after left fielder had scored the first Tiger run with a fielder's choice. Another run came in on a single from designated hitter Eric Wiethorn, who hit 4-for-5 in the game to up his average to .433.
After catcher Chris Phillips extended LSU's lead to 5-0 with a leadoff homer in the fourth, Tulane closed the advantage with four runs in the top of the fifth.
After loading the bases, Harris retired the next two Green Wave hitters, but Aubrey helped himself with a two-run double to right field. Left fielder Bryan Stelmack then made the score 5-4 with a single that brought in two more runs.
A one-out double from Tulane right fielder Gerald Clark in the sixth ended the night on the mound for Harris. Lukas Guidroz (L, 0-2) was given a chance to preserve the Tiger lead but missed a golden opportunity when, fielding a squib in front of the plate from shortstop Tommy Manzella, threw into the dirt at first base. The error allowed Clark to cross the plate and tie the game.
Guidroz struck out centerfielder Jon Kaplan for the second out but first baseman Aaron Feldman kept the inning alive with a grounder to deep short. Rocky Scelfo fielded the ball with a leaping grab but unwisely chose to make the throw to first. Feldman got to the bag in plenty of time and the ball was out of reach for Wiethorn at first. The error allowed Manzella, who had advanced to second on a wild pitch, to score the go-ahead run for Tulane.
Despite taking the loss, Guidroz threw his fastball effectively for the last three innings. He finished with four strikeouts. The only run Tulane scored against him was unearned, allowing his earned run average to drop from 15.43 to 6.00 at game's end.
"I finally felt like my old self out there, after a year or two of struggling," Guidroz said.
The best chance for LSU to get back into the game came in the eighth inning when third baseman Wally Pontiff and Sean Barker provided back-to-back singles with two outs. But a hit to tie the game, Charron got left fielder Matt Heath to swing at strike three.
Charron held the Tigers to three hits in 3 1/3 innings of work.
"We kind of got flat out beat," said Pontiff after a 3-for-5 night at the plate. "We didn't compete. We kind of sashéd through the game like we could win just because we've got ‘LSU' on our shirts."
Laval commented after the game that the Tigers had prepared to hit against Aubrey and Charron, two pitchers who use the change-up prominently. But the bulk of his younger players weren't patient and swung at bad pitches.
"No surprise," Laval said regarding the pitches his team saw. "(Charron's) a tremendous relief pitcher. We knew what he and Auburey would be throwing and didn't make adjustments, except for the veterans."