Tigers take two of three from USM

The LSU Tigers (11-7) opened their final non-conference weekend series of the season on Friday with a 2-1 win over Southern Mississippi (12-4), taking the series win, 2-1. Defense was the key to LSU's afternoon game on Friday, while offense earned the Tigers their win at the plate Saturday, 15-8. The Tigers played well on Sunday, but dropped the series finale 5-3.

The trio of contests offered packed Alex Box Stadium crowds plenty of excitement over the weekend series, featuring and 11-2 Golden Eagle team that entered Friday's contest.


The weekend series was likely LSU's best weekend performance of the season thus far, just in time for the beginning of conference play next Friday at South Carolina.

LSU is the only team to win a series against Southern Miss this season.



LSU 2 Southern Miss 1


Friday's contest against Southern Miss was their second 2-1 victory of the week, the first coming in Shreveport at Centenary. The Tigers held off the Golden Eagles with superb defensive pitching, with Charlie Furbush completing eight innings on the mound.


Furbush produced his best outing of the season while allowing no earned runs with five strikeouts and three hits. Furbush not only improved his season record to 3-1, but also lowered his ERA to .261. 


"(Furbush) pitched courageously tonight," said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "I thought it was an awesome performance."


Louis Coleman relieved the junior in the top of the ninth to finish the game, allowing two hits and no runs to end the game.


Pitching was the key to Friday's victory with the Tigers gathering only four hits on the evening. The four hits were divided amongst three different singles by Chris Jackson, Sean Ochinko and Steven Waguespack, with Jordan Mayer slicing a triple to centerfield in the fifth for an RBI.


The Golden Eagles jumped onto the scoreboard first with a series of LSU mistakes. Trey Sutton reached on a fielding error by Mayer, and then to second on a throwing error by Jackson. The next batter grounded out, moving Sutton to third and finally scored on a passed ball for the 1-0 lead.


The Tigers settled down for the remainder of the contest on defense, and scored their first run of the night in the fifth. Ochinko reached on a fielding error by the Southern Miss third baseman, and was sent home two outs later on a Mayer Triple. The run tied the gamed 1-1, which set an exciting seventh inning for LSU.          


In the seventh, Ochinko again got things started, this time with a single up the middle. Waguespack next singled to right field, sending Ochinko to third. J.T. Wise flied out to right field, advancing Waguespack to second and Ochinko across home plate for the 2-1 final score. 


Furbush cruised through the eighth, and was relieved by Coleman in the ninth. Coleman allowed the first batters on with back-to-back singles. Sutton then reached on a fielder's choice for the first out of the inning.     


With a man on first and third, Waguespack made the play of the day with a double-play in right-field to the first baseman to end the game 2-1.


"I got a pretty good read on it," said Waguespack. "Once it found my glove, I realized to throw it back to first, even without a good grip on it."


"That was an amazing ending," added Mainieri. "I'm not sure I have ever seen an ending like that. It was a fantastic play by Waguespack. If you hustle good things happen."


 The win was a big one for the Tigers, showing for the second time in a week that relief pitching could hold on for the victory.




LSU 15 Southern Miss 8


Saturday's contest was perhaps LSU's finest day at the plate this season, gathering 13 hits with 15 earned runs against the Golden Eagles.


Michael Hollander led his team with five RBI on three hits and one-run scored. The Tiger shortstop contributed three singles, with Ryan Schimpf and Wise each adding two hits of their own.


"We are not going to hit a hundred homeruns this year, so we are going to have to play hit and run," Hollander said. "I think we had timely hitting today, which is something we haven't had in only a couple games this year. I think it starting to come together for us at the plate."


Ochinko added a big swing in the sixth when he slammed a three-run home run over the left field wall, just inside the pole to produce a 9-4 lead. Ochinko said he also called the pitches for the first three innings of the game behind the plate due to the absence of pitching coach Terry Rooney on a recruiting trip.


Junior right-hander Jared Bradford (3-1) earned the victory on Saturday, just one week following his 13 strikeout performance against Lipscomb. Bradford, who was named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week on Monday, allowed four runs, three earned on eight hits in 5.2 innings. He walked three and struck out two.


Even though the Tigers best pitcher as of late didn't bring his best work, Mainieri was still pleased with his effort.


"You come to expect Bradford to be perfect all the time, but today he had by far his worst stuff," Mainieri said. "He battled through it."


A growing trend for LSU this season has been to give up early runs, and that trend continued Saturday with a run in the first and second innings. The Golden Eagles looked to be in control of the game, but the Tiger bats came alive for the remainder of the evening with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third.


LSU scored five straight unanswered points, with Southern Miss earning a pair of runs in the sixth. The Tigers answered with Ochinko's blast to left field, and added six more runs in the seventh inning as they cruised to victory 15-8.


"It's a long season and we have a really young team," Ochinko said. "We are just rolling right now and our hitting is coming around."


Darryl Shaffer and Matt Jackson finished the contest for Bradford, giving up the final four runs for the Golden Eagles in 3.1 innings of relief.


Mainieri attributed his squad's high scoring day on key hits and excellent base running.


"I think we ran the bases well today, but I think we have been running the bases well all year," Mainieri said. "Guys are hustling and running smart. I told them before the season that we don't have the fastest base running team in the nation, but that doesn't mean we can't be the best base running team in the country."




Southern Miss 5 LSU 3        


Sunday's series finale was a bit of a nailbiter for LSU fans as they watched their Tigers squander key plays throughout the day in route to a 5-3 loss.


Mayer led his team at the plate with a pair of hits, including a one-run blast over left-center, but the team as a whole could only manage five hits following their 13 hit performance the day before. Hollander, Blake Dean and Jared Mitchell each contributed a hit.


"It's a little frustrating because when you are trying to build the program back to where it once was, it seems that you take two steps forward and one steps back," Mainieri said. "I think we are improving in a lot of ways. I don't think we played a terrible game today. I thought we pitched well enough to win."


T.J. Forrest started on the mound for the Tigers after gathering a 2-1 win on Tuesday at Centenary. Forrest did not figure into the decision with his three-inning start on Sunday, giving up one run on six hits with three strikeouts.


Perhaps the surprise of the day came in the fourth when Robert Lara entered in relief. Lara, who backs up Ochinko at catcher, threw in the lower 90s against the Golden Eagles, giving two up hits and two unearned runs in 1.1 innings. Lara was followed by Paul Bertuccini, Kyle Beerbohm, Nolan Cain and Louis Coleman.


Mainieri said he was told by Lara's former high school coach the week before that Lara threw well in high school and in the Cape Code league over the summer.


"Let's take advantage of your god giving talent," Mainieri said to Lara last Sunday after informing him Ochinko would be the starter for the remainder of the season. "We had him throw two bullpens this week. We don't have a lot of power arms in the bullpen, so who knows. Maybe he can be a spark for us as the season goes."


"I always looked at [pitching] as a last option," Lara said. "But I guess I'm going to start throwing a little bit more."


Southern Miss scored in the first for the third straight game on a two-out RBI double from left fielder Luke Adkins. Mayer tied the score at 1-1 in the third with a soaring, leadoff homer over the left field bleachers. The Tigers took a one-run lead an inning later. Blake Dean walked to start the frame and stole second. Dean then took third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch for the 3-1 lead. 


The Golden Eagles erased the deficit in the fifth with three unearned runs after an error by second baseman Chris Jackson. Lara issued back-to-back singles with one out, but Bertuccini couldn't get out the jam on a ground ball to Jackson.


Jackson allowed the ball to narrowly roll under his legs and into the outfield, scoring the

runner at first. The next Southern Miss batter hit a blooper to right field, scoring two runs and taking the lead 4-2.


"I went down for it and when I went to throw it to Michael I didn't have it," Chris Jackson said." Its just one of those things."


The Tigers tried to tie it up in the fifth, but could manage only one run on a Hollander RBI single. LSU would load the bases in the eight with two outs, but Waguespack grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.


"Today we just didn't play a complete ball game," Chris Jackson said. "I didn't make a couple plays in the field. We just didn't play very well today."

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