Whether it was Alex Lange blowing fastballs by the Ole Miss hitters, or the Tigers' lineup spraying James McArthur offerings all across the field, nothing went right for the Rebels on this steamy night at Alex Box Stadium.
McArthur struggled early on, and left pitches up in the zone. His fastball command slipped and so did the command of his breaking ball and change up. LSU made the sophomore right-hander pay for every slight mistake he made. The Tigers scored a single run in each of the first four innings of the game, before blowing the game open with a four-run fifth that was catalyzed by five straight two-out hits. It chased McArthur from the game. He was relieved by Andy Pagnozzi, who gave up two more runs of his own on three hits and did not record an out. He was quickly replaced by Connor Green.
McArthur's line ended with yielding six runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings of work. It was the first hiccup he's had in an otherwise strong return since being on the shelf with a four-arm strain.
The four-run fifth inning is where the wheels came off, and LSU showed no mercy after that. Greg Deichmann tattooed a grand slam in the sixth that was the lynchpin in a six-run frame for LSU. All of those runs were attributed to Green and all of them were unearned thanks to a pair of errors in the inning. three different Tigers had multi-hit games, including a 4-4, four RBI performance from Tiger left fielder Antoine Duplantis in the nine hole. Deichmann bested him with a career high five RBIs. Ten LSU hitters recorded a hit in the game.
On the other side of things, Ole Miss could not solve Lange at the plate. He retired the first 14 hitters he faced, and a Tim Rowe two-out single in the fifth inning. Lange went seven innings, scattered three hits and struck out seven without allowing a run on the night. He hadn't been on the receiving end of much run support, and hadn't pitched with a lead since mid-March. But Lange certainly got offensive backing by the bunches on this night. He used a lethal wipeout breaking ball to contrast a fastball in the low 90s. The lone bright spot in the lineup was Rowe who cracked two hits off of the LSU junior righty.
To put it simply, nothing went right for Ole Miss on this night. LSU had McArthur's number from the time he fired his first pitch. They squared up balls and slowly ate away at the sophomore. It rained and then poured on the Rebels, who didn't have a runner reach third base until the ninth inning when Cole Zabowski launched a two-out double off of the wall to score two runs and prevent a shutout.
Lange is one of the best pitchers in the SEC, and had one of his best nights of the season on the same night Ole Miss endured its worst pitching performance. Bianco was able to salvage the bulk of his bullpen by throwing Sean Johnson and Houston Roth for the final 3.1 innings of the game.
It is certainly not the way Bianco and his club wanted to start the series, but it is just a single game and the Rebels will have a chance to even the series tomorrow despite the 15-hit bludgeoning they were on the receiving end of in the opener. David Parkinson will be on the hill against LSU's veteran lefty Jared Poche.
On James McArthur: "He struggled tonight with just command of everything. Really no breaking ball, no change up to speak of and even the fastball wasn't good command and pitched in bad counts. Obviously, they got a lot of good swings off on him."
On whether it is a different game if play is made on two-out hit in fifth: "Maybe. If we make that play it would have been a heck of a play by Tate. If we make that play and get off the field then maybe. Like you said, it was manageable at that point, you know letting that ball go and I think they put up a four spot and a six spot after that. It got real ugly."
On Alex Lange: "Really good. He's had a tough year and some nights where he has been real sharp, and some nights where maybe where he hasn't been. Tonight he was really good."
On Colby Bortles at 1st base: "Made three really good plays, diving plays, foul balls and one on a hit and run by Robertson. Again, he was terrific."
On what Lange did well: "I thought we got some good swings early on that just didn't fall and that happens. I thought his fastball command. was excellent and he was able to throw more breaking balls into the strike zone and really kept us off of the fastball. Again, after about the third inning we didn't get many swings after that."
- Colby Bortles played first base again tonight, and Kyle Watson got the start at third base. Bortles made three really athletic plays in the field and looked comfortable for the most part at the bag. He's proved to be an option there if necessary.
- Tim Rowe had a multi-hit game and continues to swing the bat well in SEC play.