After five hours and twenty minutes of baseball, LSU catcher Sean Ochinko singled past shortstop, sending third baseman Michael Hollander home for the game-winning run and giving the Tigers the nation’s longest winning streak. Hollander had started the 15th inning with a stand up double to right field and advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by left fielder Jared Mitchell before coming around to score the game-winner.
“What a ball game,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “A great game between two outstanding teams that battled to the end. I’m so proud of our players for the way they fought throughout the game and finally came out on top in the end. We have a very resilient group of young men on our team who continue to play with a high level of confidence.”
LSU (36-16-1) scored two runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 6-6, as Mitchell singled to right field to score Hollander from second, and a sacrifice fly from shortstop DJ LeMahieu scored Mitchell from third base.
The bats went silent from that point on, largely due to each team’s bullpen.
LSU’s relief staff of Austin Ross, Paul Bertuccini, Daniel Bradshaw and Louis Coleman combined to allow just three hits and struck out nine batters in innings six through fifteen. LSU tallied six hits in the game’s late innings, but stranded seven batters between the ninth and fifteenth innings.
The game started out explosively, as the teams combined for five runs in the first inning. With a runner on first, UNO’s TJ Baxter hit the game’s only homerun to left field, narrowly missing the foul pole for a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers countered with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame.
Micah Gibbs began a sterling night from the plate with a two-RBI double that scored Hollander and Mitchell. First baseman Matt Clark helped the Tigers to a 3-2 lead with a sacrifice fly that scored Blake Dean.
LSU right fielder Nicholas Pontiff also delivered on an emotional night.
Playing in a game named for his late brother, Wally, Pontiff started his night with a single to right-center field and subsequently took second base on a wild pitch. A base hit from Hollander scored Pontiff and extended the Tigers’ lead to 4-2 after two innings.
UNO (38-14) tied the score with runs in the third and fourth innings then turned things in their favor in the fifth.
UNO’s Johnny Giavotella scored outfielder Ryan Eden and cut the score to 4-3 in the third inning. Eden showed up again in the fourth, this time scoring catcher Jeff Lanning with an RBI single and tying the game at 4-4.
Giavotella proved a nuisance to the LSU defense in the fifth as he singled and stole second with two outs. A single by Josh Vander Hey scored Giavotella for a 5-4 UNO lead.
Errors by LSU allowed the Privateers to extend the lead in the seventh.
A fielding error by Hollander allowed Joey Butler to make his way to second base then the UNO left fielder took third on a wild pitch by Ross. LSU center fielder Leon Landry made an outstanding belly flop grab on a sacrifice fly, but the throw was not in time and Butler scored to give UNO a 6-4 advantage.
LSU tied it with two in the seventh then the game was deadlock for seven long innings before the Tigers scored in the 15th.
Jordan Brown got the start for LSU but did not shine as brightly as his relief.
Brown started and pitched five complete innings for the Tigers, allowing five runs on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Louis Coleman (5-0) got the win as the Tigers’ final pitcher. He allowed no hits in two innings of work with no walks and three strike outs.
Matt Brown (2-3) went three and a third in relief for UNO and pitched well but picked up the loss.
LSU’s final series of the regular season begins Thursday at 6 p.m. at Auburn, as the Tigers look to maintain their slim lead atop the SEC West.