LSU’s never seen such a performance from its non-starters.
They saved the night.
Conner Hale, Tyler Moore and Jake Fraley each hit home runs, and the Tigers overcame a five-run deficit, getting the go-ahead runs in the eighth inning to beat lowly Alcorn State 9-7 on Tuesday night at Alex Box Stadium.
LSU pitchers gave up a whopping 16 hits, the most allowed in a non-conference regular season game in five years, and the Tigers (34-11-1) tumbled into a 6-1 hole before a late rally from a group of everyday players who started the game on the bench.
Coach Paul Mainieri started six reserves among his eight position players, replacing all of them by the seventh inning with regulars.
Fraley, pinch-hitting, hit a three-run shot in the sixth to start the rally, and the Tigers had a pair of two-out homers in a five-run eighth inning to take the lead over the Braves (8-37).
“The story of the game was how well Alcorn played,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said afterward, “but as long as they’re outs remaining you feel like you’re going to win. We felt like if we chipped away we’d have a chance to win.”
In that eighth inning, Moore had a two-run shot, and Hale followed with a three-run bomb well over the left field wall that served as the winning knock in a wild affair.
Alcorn scored five runs on six hits in the second inning, all against LSU pitcher Henri Faucheux. The Braves took a 6-1 lead in the top of the sixth.
The announced 2,940 at Alex Box Stadium sat stunned in quiet for much of the first two hours in what was supposed to be a tune-up for a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Texas A&M (28-18) this weekend.
The Tigers had to scratch to survive.
“They hammered out 16 hits and made every play imaginable,” Mainieri said. “We didn’t do anything wrong. They just played lights out.”
That said, Mainieri replaced a full field of reserves with starters, beginning in the bottom of the sixth by pinch-hitting for players.
Alcorn shortstop Moses Charles committed two error in the sixth – one on Andrew Stevenson’s hard-hit grounder and another on a shot from Kade Scivicque.
Fraley then rocked a 1-0 pitch to right field to make it 6-4.
The Tigers entered the eighth down 7-4.
Scivicque started the inning with a lineout, and Fraley drew a walk. Mark Laird lined out for the second out before the rally.
Moore homered in the next at-bat to make it 7-6. Sean McMullen walked, Christian Ibarra hit a line-drive single to left before Hale’s game-winner.
“My first at-bat I had the same pitcher,” Hale said. “His fastball was kind of flat. I got the same pitch at my second at-bat.”
He drove it over the wall to prevent what would have been a deflating loss for a team fighting to be a regional host and national seed. LSU’s RPI (15) is likely to take a dip from just playing the Braves, who have the seventh-worst RPI in the nation.
“We learned a lesson that you should never give up,” Hale said.
Fury (2-1) got the win, pitching two innings of two-hit ball, but the Tigers struggled mightily on the mound.
Alcorn got six hits against each Kyle Bouman and Faucheux.
Faucheux pitched that ugly third inning.
Alcorn batted all nine in the frame and got six hits. Faucheux threw two wild pitches and hit a batter. He allowed two doubles as the Braves took their 5-0 lead.
They nearly scored a sixth, too. The inning ended with a putout at the plate.
LSU’s bullpen remained empty through much of the inning as Faucheux struggled on the mound. After the eighth batter of the inning, Bouman trotted to the bullpen, and LSU fans cheered loudly.
“We finally found some holes at the end of the game,” Bregman said. “We were able to come through with a win. We had good at-bats. We figured the tide would turn eventually.”