LSU (15-8) was unable to extend its home winning streak against the Privateers to 11 games. UNO (14-8) notched its first victory in Alex Box Stadium since 1997.
UNO pitcher David Burch (2-0) took the win after pitching three scoreless innings in relief. LSU reliever Daniel Bradshaw (1-2) received the loss. The freshman allowed four runs (two earned) in three innings.
Left fielder Blake Dean led the Tigers at the plate as he finished 3 for 5 with an RBI, and junior college transfers Derek Helenihi and Matt Gaudet drove in two runs apiece, but the Tigers were unable to score any runs after the fifth inning.
“We haven’t had the killer instinct to come through with the clutch hit when we had the opportunity,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I’m getting a good half a game out of them, but I can’t get them to play and bear down for nine full innings.”
Perhaps even worse than the tough defeat was the loss of senior third baseman Michael Hollander, who could miss some time after sustaining a strained hamstring running to first in the fifth inning. How much time he will miss is uncertain at this time, but Mainieri believes his senior leader may miss a couple of weeks.
“I think he pulled his hamstring and may be out a couple of weeks,” Mainieri said. “He’s been playing so great, and it will be a tough loss. We’ll just have to pick up the pieces and figure out a way to make up for Mike being out for a little while. Hopefully, it won’t be too long.”
The Tigers seized the lead early in the bottom of the first. UNO starter Tyler Sanders gave Ryan Schimpf first base after grazing the Tiger second baseman’s arm with a pitch. Hollander followed with a base hit on a perfectly executed hit and run. Schimpf advanced to third.
After a pop out by Dean, Gaudet grounded to short but drove in Schimpf. The Privateers intentionally walked first baseman Matt Clark in an attempt to set up a potential double play, but it didn’t matter. Helenihi knocked a blooper into right field to score Hollander, and the Tigers took the lead, 2-0.
UNO notched a run in the top of the second to cut the lead to 2-1. Consecutive singles to start the inning chased LSU starter Ryan Byrd from the ballgame. Jordan Brown came on in relief.
With runners on second and third, catcher Jeff Lanning hit a grounder to third to plate second baseman Johnny Giavotella.
The Tigers added another run in the bottom of the second to take a 3-1 lead. Center fielder Leon Landry ripped a single to center and subsequently swiped second base. Schimpf drove him in with an opposite field base hit to right field.
UNO bounced right back with another run in the third. Shortstop Michael Knipper drilled a double into the gap in left field and scored on a wild pitch to shrink the lead to 3-2.
Giavotella’s double in the fourth marked the third consecutive inning a Privateer batter led off with a base hit. He would later score to tie the game on a RBI single by Lanning.
The Privateers gained the lead, 4-3, in the fifth. LSU pitcher Shane Ardoin walked Knipper and Ryan Eden to start the inning. After an errant throw on a pickoff attempt by Paul Bertuccini advanced Knipper to third, T.J. Baxter knocked him in with a sacrifice fly.
LSU tallied three runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead, 6-4. Hollander reached on an error but was injured on the play. Dean followed with a blistering double down the left field line to score pinch runner Johnny Dishon.
Then, Gaudet ripped a double into the center field gap to score Dean, and Helenihi singled two batters later to plate Gaudet.
UNO retied the game in the seventh. Bradshaw retired the first two batters but gave up back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases. First baseman Nick Schwaner lined a base hit into left to drive home two runs.
Bradshaw kept the game tied in the top of the eighth with superb pitching. The freshman fanned Lanning and Mark McGonigle and caught Knipper looking to strike out the side.
The Privateers broke the tie with a pair of runs with two outs in the ninth. Baxter doubled, and Mainieri chose to intentionally walk Giavotella. With men on first and second, Schwaner reached on a throwing error by Schimpf to score Baxter. Vander Hey followed with a single to left field, and Giavotella scored.
UNO pitcher Ryan O’Shea retired three straight Tiger batters in the ninth to record his fifth save of the season.
LSU returns to action this weekend as the Tigers will make the trip to Gainesville, Fla. to face No. 18 Florida.