LSU sputters to 5-1 loss at Ole Miss

OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss’ errors couldn’t save LSU on this night.

The Tigers had their own bungles.

LSU struggled at the plate, the Tigers had a few misplays in the field and pitcher Jared Poché had another shaky road start in a 5-1 loss to Ole Miss on Friday night at Swayze Field.

It sets up a Saturday afternoon rubber match between the Southeastern Conference rivals.

Poché allowed six hits through the first three innings, and he had two walks in Ole Miss’ two-run fourth inning, including one to load the bases.

Third baseman Christian Ibarra had a throwing error in that inning, and right fielder Mark Laird dropped a fly ball in foul territory that would have ended the rally.

“To win a game in this environment on the road, you have to play really, really well. I don’t think we played well enough to win,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.

The Tigers (29-10-1, 9-7-1) couldn’t muster the big hits against Ole Miss starter Christian Trent, a former LSU signee who spent one year in Baton Rouge.

He allowed seven hits through seven innings, and the Rebels (30-10, 10-7) surged to a 4-1 lead after that fourth.

A night after scoring two runs via Ole Miss errors in a 4-3, 13-inning win, LSU got its only run Friday off a third-inning error.

The Tigers stranded five runners in the first three innings and batted the minimum in the fourth, fifth and sixth as the Rebels ran away with this one in front of 10,061.

A shuffled LSU lineup — Danny Zardon got his first start at second base, and Jared Foster got the nod in left field — failed to have success against Trent, a Madisonville native.

“Thought he was terrific today,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.

“That was so long ago,” Trent said. “Yeah, it’s nice to get the (win) against my old team, but really it was just like another game and great to get the win.”

The teams meet at 1 p.m. Saturday in the series finale, a bugaboo for the Tigers of late.

LSU has won one of its five SEC Game 3s, a dismal record partly because of a wobbly pitching situation.

Mainieri said he had not made a decision on a starter for the game as of Friday night.

“We take each game with the same approach,” senior Sean McMullen said. “We have all of the confidence in the world in whoever is starting tomorrow. I have no doubt they’re going to get the job done.”

But who will it be?

Reliever Zac Person didn’t pitch in the first two games, and Parker Bugg threw just one inning Thursday. Normal Game 3 starter Kyle Bouman remains an option.

Cody Glenn might be out.

He threw just 15 pitches in relief of Poché on Friday night, but Auston Bousfield took his third pitch over the left-field wall to make it 5-1 in the seventh inning.

The Tigers had their chances.

LSU wasted one-out singles in the first and second innings against Trent.

In the first, Kade Scivicque and Chris Chinea flew out to strand two.

Foster struck out, and Zardon hit into an inning-ending fielder’s choice in the second.

Trent then took command. At one point, he retired 10 of 11 LSU batters.

“He pitched good enough to win,” Mainieri said. “Mixed his pitches up.”

The hardest hit on Trent may have come in the first inning. Chinea smoked a ball that was caught at the warning track, about 3 feet shy of being a three-run homer.

“It just died at the wall,” Mainieri said.

Ole Miss got on the board early against Poché, dinging the rookie.

The Rebels started their first at-bat with three consecutive singles, the last of those Austin Anderson’s RBI grounder.

“It wasn’t my best outing, obviously,” Poché said. “Curveball wasn’t working at all until late in the game. Changeup was working. I wasn’t locating my fastball well. I just wasn’t missing bats as much as I usually do.”

LSU knotted the score at 1 on an Ole Miss error by Anderson.

The Rebels regained the lead in the third following back-to-back singles against Poché and then Will Allen’s RBI groundout.

In that mistake-riddled fourth, Bousfield’s single up the middle scored two to make it 4-1.

“Poché didn’t have great command like he typically does,” Mainieri said. “Thought he pitched courageously. He battled all of the way to the end.”