Tigers take it on the chin

The members of LSU's baseball team may be the happiest people the start of April. March has been anything but lucky to the Tigers.

LSU has combined to go 10-6 overall and 2-5 in Southeastern Conference during the month.


LSU's troubles in SEC play continued Friday night as the Tigers dropped their third consecutive series opener, losing to South Carolina 12-2.  The loss marks the second straight Friday night that LSU's opponents outscored the Tigers by double digits.


Also for the second time in two weeks, Will Harris called a player's meeting to discuss the team's performance.  Following the game, the players huddled around Harris, whose voice could be heard from the grandstand.


"We're about as low as you can get right now," Harris said. "We're not hitting, we're not pitching, we're not playing defense, so something's got to happen. It's time for a change.  We have to step it up one way or another. We have no choice."


Starters Michael Hollander, Quinn Stewart, Jarred Bogany, Jason Ogata, and Steven Broschofsky combined to go 0- 14 at the plate.  Stewart's 0-4 night ended his 10 game hitting streak.


The Tigers' pitching woes started in the first inning with a mental miscue from starter Daniel Forrer.  Forrer tagged first base to get out a charging Neil Giesler, but forgot about Michael Campbell on second.  With Forrer's back facing home, Campbell scored to give South Carolina the early lead.


LSU coach Smoke Laval said that the pitchers practice covering first base with a man on second three times a day.  He said this type of problem should never happen during the game.


LSU's problems continued in the third inning as Giesler blasted a two run home run over the scoreboard in right field.


Reliever Andrew Cruise (3-0) shut down the LSU bats after replacing South Carolina's starting pitcher, Arik Hempy.  Hempy was taken out in the fifth inning after injuring his throwing elbow.  Hempy, who underwent Tommy John surgery, pitched 4.1 inning, giving up one earned run on three hits and striking out four Tiger batters.


A home run by Will Harris in the fifth inning brought the Tigers within two, but the LSU pitching could not hold it any closer.


Forrer retired eight Gamecocks in a row before running in to trouble in the sixth inning.  After getting the batters in a full count, Forrer gave up two walks to start the inning.  Forrer was pulled for Nolan Cain, but Cain did not fair any better.


Ian Paxton and Mark Stanley both delivered singles to the outfield, each driving in one runner.  Cain walked another batter to load the bases before being replaced by Edgar Ramirez.


A sacrifice fly by Robbie Grinestaff scored South Carolina's sixth run of the inning, putting the Gamecocks ahead 9-1.


Forrer (1-2) was given the loss after allowing six runs in five innings.


LSU catcher Matt Liuzza was taken out of the game following the sixth inning because of his apparent frustration with his teammates and their intensity.


"It's tough to win when you get two hits in an inning and they score five runs.  It's going to be tough to win any game like that," Liuzza said. 


Liuzza also expressed his disappointment with the team's pitching, particularly walking batters.


"We walked six guys and five of them scored. You're not going to be able to win when you walk people," he said.


Laval opted to take Liuzza out of the game because he was too emotional after the inning.  Laval said that he did not want to risk Liuzza trying to hard to make something happen and injuring himself in the process.


LSU had opportunities to respond in the sixth and seventh innings, but could not capitalize with the two lead off batters reaching first.


Justin Smoak put the exclamation point on the South Carolina evening in the top of the eighth inning with a three run blast off the scoreboard, extending the Gamecock lead 12-1.


Wise's solo home run in the bottom of the inning brought the score to 12-2, but that was all the offense LSU could muster.


Michael Bonura retired the side in the ninth inning, striking out the first two batters and getting the third to pop up to center fielder Jarred Bogany.


South Carolina answered back, getting three outs from the next three LSU batters.


Cruise ended with 4.2 innings pitched, allowing one run on three hits.


After Laval concluded with his team meeting, the coaches left the huddle while Harris talked to his teammates. 


Liuzza said he and Harris planned the meeting during the game.


"We've got to start winning, that's the bottom line," Liuzza said.

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