LSU’s Foster ends slump; bullpen steps up in 5-3 win over Nicholls State

Jared Foster never lost confidence in himself.

He had a near month-long hitting streak, had zero hits in his past 12 at-bats, and slipped from cleanup man to bench warmer.

These things, the LSU outfielder said, didn’t bother him.

“Just got to keep working,” he said. “It’s all going to come back.”

At least some of it did Tuesday night.

Foster’s RBI double off the right-field wall served as one of the few noteworthy smacks in LSU’s sluggish 5-3 win over Nicholls State at Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers (15-2) had just five hits, the fewest in a nine-game span and the second-lowest total of the season.

They got just enough offense to slip past the Colonels (8-9) in the second-to-last outing before traveling to meet Vanderbilt in a Top-10, conference-opening series in Nashville, Tenn.

LSU hosts Southern (2-8) on Wednesday.

“I was hoping we’d swing the bat a little bit better,” coach Paul Mainieri said of Tuesday’s game. “At the end of the day, we scratched a few across and executed a couple of things.”

Despite some rough patches, starter Brady Domangue had his longest outing of the season at five innings, and Foster’s RBI double in the second inning snapped his skid.

It was his first hit since a Feb. 19 game at Southeastern Louisiana. He entered game batting .107.

“It was good, finally get that out of the way,” he said.

LSU struggled against five Nicholls pitchers and led just 3-2 until the seventh inning in a sluggish night at the plate.

Eleven straight Tigers were retired starting with the second out of the second inning, and seven of those flew out.

“They did a good job of throwing strikes, and we were a little bit too amped up, too pumped up to hit the ball,” second baseman Kramer Robertson said.

Colonel pitchers issued three walks and hit two, while their infield committed two errors.

In the seventh, LSU got the first two on via hit batter and error, and Sean McMullen and Alex Bregman followed with RBI singles.

Center fielder Andrew Stevenson provided one of the few electric at-bats.

He extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a screaming double off the right-center-field wall in the eighth inning in his last at-bat. There were two outs.

Foster went 1-for-4 —but that one, Mainieri hopes, will boost the confidence of a guy he plans to rely on as early as this weekend. Foster, a right-hander, could start Saturday at Vanderbilt, the coach said.

“Our offensive team has kind of changed somewhat. It’s become more left-handed dominant,” Mainieri said. “So now you’re looking for right-handed hitters to come through for you especially against left-handed starters. Thought he played a good game.”

Foster, a junior and former quarterback on the football team, began the season as the cleanup hitter before slipping out of the lineup. He started in left field Tuesday, just his second start since Feb. 23.

His RBI double in the second inning gave LSU a 3-1 lead and shattered a hitting skid.

It looked more like the guy Mainieri said he saw in preseason.

Foster started the first three games of the season, the first two in the No. 4 hole behind Bregman. He was 1-for-13 over the opening weekend.

Domangue, in his second start and fifth appearance, allowed five hits and two runs in an outing Mainieri called “OK.”

LSU used four relievers. Zac Person and Kurt McCune pitched scoreless innings. Parker Bugg allowed three hits and a run, and Joe Broussard got his third save.

Foster also fired a ball from left field to second base, putting out Leo Vargas, who was trying to stretch an eighth-inning RBI single into a double.

“We practice that play every day,” Mainieri said. “Foster did it just like we practice.”