In-state blues

The top-ranked LSU baseball team has not had good fortune against in-state teams this season. Wednesday night the Tigers fell once more, this time at the hands of Nicholls State.

LSU starter Chris Matulis (4-2) allowed three runs on four hits in five innings of work, just enough breathing room for NSU to get out of town with a 3-1 victory.

The Tigers (27-10) opened the night looking sharp, striking in the third after Buzzy Haydel reached base after being hit by a Ryan Harding pitch.

Haydel stole second and later scored on a Derek Helenihi fly out, putting LSU out front, 1-0.

Nicholls State (17-18) answered back in the top of the following frame, scoring three runs on three straight singles and a ground out.

The visitors would take the 3-1 lead in the process, a push that would prove to be enough to take home the win.

“Give [NSU] credit, because they came in here and got the job done,” head coach Paul Mainieri said. “We are a better team than what we showed, and we did not do a very good job of proving that tonight.”

Ben Alsup was the lone bright spot as he stepped in for Matulis in the sixth, throwing three innings of no hit, no run ball to keep LSU within striking distance.

The sophomore right-hander has not allowed a hit in seven combined innings of work dating back to last week’s start against Grambling State.

While the Tiger skipper has been frantically searching for a middle relief arm to bridge the gap to closer Matty Ott, Mainieri said that the performance did not book the sophomore’s ticket for the job.

“I thought that Ben pitched well tonight,” he said. “He had some good stuff, but he has still looked shaky at times. He did not pitch well at Alabama, so we will see where we go this weekend.”

The story of the night, however, remained the pitching staff of the Colonels.

Starter Brad Delatte was the only pitcher to go more than an inning on the night, allowing one hit and no runs over the opening two frames.

Seven different pitchers showed their stuff over the final seven frames for the visitors, with each Colonel throwing one inning a piece. The staff allowed a combined one run and two hits on the night.

“They overmatched our hitters, and I would take any one of those guys they threw tonight on my team,” he said. “It was very difficult for our batters to get a read on a new pitcher every inning, so I thought they had a great game plan.”

Harding got the win for NSU, while Matulis suffered his second loss of the season for LSU.

The Tigers will be back in action this weekend against Tennessee. Game one is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium.

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