Poché delivers in Tigers’ 2-1 win

Warming up in the bullpen for the first Saturday start of his college career, Jared Poché’s confidence level was low.

Very low.

“I thought it was going to be my worst outing,” he said.

“Ever.”

It was his best.

So far.

Poché won an old-fashioned pitching duel between a fellow rookie, allowing just three hits in a sparkling 82⁄3 innings and leading LSU to a 2-1 win over Georgia on Saturday night at Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers (20-4, 3-2 SEC) clinched the series win, and Poché got his first clutch victory. He might have secured the Saturday starter gig by barely out-dueling his counterpart in a slugfest between a pair of freshmen hurlers.

He finished with six strikeouts, two walks and got every out except the final one in his first Saturday start of the season. He was elevated from his Sunday position this weekend.

“We needed to have somebody win a game for us other than Aaron Nola,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “I’ll sleep well tonight knowing that Jared Poché’s on our team.”

Georgia pitcher Robert Tyler, whose fastball rarely fell below 95 mph, allowed five hits through nearly eight innings, struck out four and walked two. One of his runs was unearned.

It proved to be a big one.

In the fifth, Mark Laird singled to score Kramer Robertson, who reached on an error and then advanced to second on the errant throw from the third baseman. Laird’s hit came with one out, and Georgia failed to turn a double play, getting the out only at second.

A double play would have negated the run.

“In these type ball games, in this modern era of college baseball, the game comes down to one or two little things like that,” Mainieri said.

Sean McMullen tripled in the first inning in LSU’s first at-bat. Kade Scivicque drove him in for an early 1-0 lead.

Poché had the best outing of his brief college career, and fans booed as Mainieri yanked him with one out left in the game. He inserted Joe Broussard, who struck out the final batter on three pitches for his fifth save of the season.

In his 102-pitch outing, Poché didn’t allow his first batter to reach base until he opened the fourth by walking Georgia’s lead-off man Stephen Wrenn. The threat didn’t last long.

The Tigers turned a double play next, and catcher Tyler Moore made a leaping grab on a pop-up in foul territory to end it. Poché got some help from his outfield, too. Andrew Stevenson made a diving grab in left-center in the second inning, and McMullen, in left field, had a running grab in the sixth.

“The command of my fastball was huge tonight,” Poché said.

Poché’s other threat came later in the sixth after that grab by McMullen.

He issued a one-out walk and then nine-hole hitter Heath Holder hit a short chopper that Alex Bregman couldn’t handle. It was ruled a base hit. and broken up the no-no.

He struck out the next batter before allowing an RBI single to left for Georgia’s only run.

Poché’s counterpart was equally as good.

Tyler, a 6-foot-4 hard-throwing righty, started the game offering fastballs in the mid to high 90s. He struck 97 multiple times. His speed never really dropped.