Late triples put LSU past ULM, 4-3

LSU batting coach Turtle Thomas advised freshman designated hitter Dustin Hahn not to take as many pitches as he had in his first two at-bats against Louisiana-Monroe. The Nevada native heeded his advice and took the first pitch in his last two at-bats, resulting in a seventh-inning single and a triple in the eighth inning that pushed across the winning run in Friday night's 4-3 victory for the Tigers at Alex Box Stadium.

"Tell them how I got into your dome," Thomas shouted at Hahn while player was talking to reporters.

 

The triple from Hahn was the second of the inning for the Tigers, who had to battle back from a 3-0 deficit for the win. LSU (11-5) is scheduled to meet ULM (5-9) for the second game in their series Saturday at 2 p.m.  

 

The Indians held their three-run lead in the bottom of the eighth until a series of pitching moves backfired for head coach Brad Holland. His first decision was to pull starting pitcher Justin Lobello after he allowed a one-out single to third baseman Wally Pontiff. Up until that point, he had held the Tigers scoreless and allowed just five hits.

 

LSU head coach Smoke Laval, who had recruited Lobello from Belaire High School in Baton Rouge when he was at ULM, credited the junior right-hander with spotting three of his pitcher – the fastball, curve and change-up – inside the strike zone. Lobello told reporters after the game he was eager to prove against LSU he should have been recruited by the Tigers.

 

"Maybe at the time he wasn't LSU caliber," said Laval. "But that's how I envisioned him to look.

 

"But he didn't have to show it tonight," the coach added with a laugh.

 

Left-hander Bobby Carro replaced Lobello and struck out first baseman Justin Vargas for the second out, and Holland then elected to go to right-hander Robert Carro to face right fielder Sean Barker.

 

The strategy was foiled when Barker singled to center field and second baseman Blake Gill followed with a triple to gap in right center that scored two runs. Gill scored the tying run when Carro threw a wild pitch to with left fielder Matt Heath at the plate.

 

Heath eventually walked and Hahn brought in the go-ahead run with his triple down the first base line.

 

"It was kind of weird," said Hahn. "He threw three fast balls and I just missed on all of them. I said to myself there was no way he was going to throw another fastball, so I was looking for an off-speed pitch. But sure enough, he throws the fast ball again and I was just swinging for contact."

 

With LSU ahead 4-3, Carro (L, 1-2) closed the inning with a strike out of catcher Chris Phillips.

 

"I like to gamble," said Holland. If you drew it up the same way again, I would do the same thing. We have confidence in our bullpen. Lee went in there and got the strikeout, but Robert struggled tonight."

 

ULM took a 1-0 lead when catcher Joey Wolfe led off the second inning with a home run to right field. The Indians' lead grew to 3-0 in the third when Wolfe and second baseman Jack Skaggs provided back-to-back RBI singles.

 

While he gave up the three runs to the Indians, LSU starting pitcher Bo Pettit was otherwise able to corral ULM with nine strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work. He allowed eight hits and struck out ten without command of one of his pitches.

 

"Bo Pettit for the first time didn't have his fast ball," said Laval. "But he kept us in it for six innings until we got back into the game. That's got to boost him knowing he was able to do that without his curve ball working."

 

Brad David (W, 1-1) replaced Pettit with one out in the seventh inning and a ULM runner on first and got the Indians to hit two ground outs to second to end the inning.

Brian Wilson (S, 1) came into the game to pitch the ninth inning for LSU. After hitting a batter with one out, he got the last two Indian hitters to fly out to end the game.

 

"We were very fortunate tonight," said Laval. "Mr. Lobello was lights out."

 

Lambert suspended – Laval has suspended junior first baseman Jeff Lambert indefinitely pending a police investigation into an off-campus incident. The Reveille, the LSU student-run newspaper, reported that Lambert was allegedly involved in an altercation at an off-campus apartment on Feb. 28. He was arrested at Thursday's practice and charged with simple battery and unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling.

 

Until he receives further details from Baton Rouge and LSU Police, Laval said he is putting off a permanent decision on Lambert's status with the team. Lambert was released from custody about a half-hour after he was apprehended.

 

According to The Reveille, Lambert was at a bar with two of his friends and the three became involved in an argument with another patron. They allegedly followed the victim to his apartment where the argument continued and Lambert supposedly punched him in the face. The two friends were arrested when police arrived at the apartment, but Lambert had already left the premises.

 

Lambert, a graduate of Archbishop Rummel High School, is a first-year student at LSU after having transferred from Alabama Southern Community College in Monroeville, Ala. He was a junior college All-American in 2001 with a .440 batting average and 90 RBI.

 

No solid decision on Sunday – There is no firm decision on Laval regarding a starting pitcher for Sunday's game. He has tentative plans to hold out regular starter Jake Tompkins, who has developed a blister under the index fingernail of his throwing hand.

 

Laval will wait and see if Tompkins is available to go on Sunday but will consider his options carefully since further aggravation of the blister could force Tompkins to miss next weekend's Southeastern Conference opening series against Vanderbilt.

 

Other possible Sunday starters for LSU are Lukas Guidroz, who threw well in a relief loss against Tulane earlier this week, and first baseman/pitcher Jason Vargas.

"Perhaps I come out of this with another weekend starter," Laval said.

 

 


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