LSU catcher makes up for first-inning error with mammoth home run in Tigers’ 7-2 victory over Arkansas
HOOVER, Ala. — The frustration bottled up in Tyler Moore escaped in one, big swing.
Sitting on the opening day of the Southeastern Conference tournament?
Committing a throwing error in the first inning that cost a run?
It all went flying into the air more than 360 feet.
Moore launched a solo home run in the second inning over the right field wall, and he had two more hits in LSU’s 7-2 win over Arkansas on Thursday, advancing the Tigers into the SEC tournament semifinals Saturday.
Moore drove in two runs — he now has 16 RBIs in the last nine games — and made up for an early error with a mighty swing on a first-pitch offering from Arkansas starter Colin Poche.
Moore’s solo shot completely left the sprawling park. The ball soared over the Arkansas bullpen in right field and dropped over the 20-foot wall beyond it, leaving the park to gasps from the crowd.
Hardest hit ever for him?
“I’ve hit a few balls hard,” he said. “It’s definitely up there.”
Moore didn’t start Wednesday’s 11-1 tournament opening win over Vanderbilt. LSU coach Paul Mainieri normally doesn’t start Moore against a left-handed pitcher because of his struggles against lefties.
LSU (42-14-1) faced a lefty Thursday in Poche, but the coach only started Moore because he’s ace pitcher Aaron Nola’s “private catcher,” Mainieri said.
Moore is making a case to start no matter who the opponent’s pitching, the coach said.
He drove in a run as a pinch-hitter Wednesday, and his two RBIs Thursday gave him that whopping 16 over the last six games.
“I don’t know if I can recall a better stretch,” he said, “but nothing’s changed. Just seeing the ball well and swinging the bat.”
LSU hitting coach Javi Sanchez grabbed Mainieri’s sleeve while in the dugout: “There’s nobody covering home!” Sanchez yelled.
Mark Laird took home plate in the seventh inning, scoring LSU’s fifth run in a surprising way: on a popout near the LSU dugout, just 20-25 feet from home plate. It was ruled a sacrifice flyout.
Arkansas third baseman Bobby Wernes caught Jake Fraley’s popout while hanging over the railing of LSU’s dugout. Laird then took off for home. The catcher was several feet behind the plate, and pitcher Landon Simpson was still on the mound.
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said the Arkansas dugout screamed toward Landon to get to home, but he couldn’t hear them with more than 2,000 LSU fans yelling behind LSU’s dugout.
“They were screaming like crazy at our third baseman,” Van Horn said. “We were screaming at our pitcher to cover the plate. He couldn’t hear us.”
There’s a playful disagreement between Sanchez and third-base coach Will Davis on who saw home open. Mainieri chuckled about it.
Laird said Davis told him to take home after he returned to the bag to tag.
“Will Davis says he thought he saw it first,” Mainieri said. “The two of them, we’ll let them argue about it. I knew with (Laird’s) speed that catcher wasn’t going to beat him to home plate.”
LSU will practice Friday morning at Samford Stadium. … An SEC team has been involved in six straight national championship series. Just one of those times — LSU in 2009 — did that team win the SEC tournament. … Mainieri started Kramer Robertson at second base, and Moore at catcher. Fraley, who pinch hit, and Kade Scivicque were left out. … Nola got his 29th career win Thursday, moving him into a tie for eighth all-time on the school’s list with Ben McDonald and Louis Coleman. … LSU won its 70th game in the SEC tournament, the most of any team in the league.