10.14.18 LSU vs New Orleans

LSU junior infielder Josh Smith (4) hits the ball during the Tigers’ 7-8 loss against University of New Orleans in Alex Box Stadium on Sunday Oct. 14, 2018.

LSU was on the ropes once again in the Baton Rouge Regional championship game, and once again the Tigers were able to get out of it. 

LSU took the lead early over Southern Miss Sunday night before giving up the lead in the fifth inning and comeback with with clutch hitting in the seventh to win 6-4. 

"In all honestly, I thought the game would've been a little bit easier today," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "I don't know if that's the right thing to say, but that team had to play for almost four hours in the heat during the day and they just found the fortitude to battle us and fight from behind and we had to fight from behind."

Because No. 4 overall seed Georgia lost in its own regional to Florida State, the Tigers will return to Alex Box next weekend to host the Baton Rouge Super Regional. 

Josh Smith takes the first pitch and drives it for a solo bomb over the right field wall. Smith padded the Tigers' lead with an RBI triple in the second inning to put LSU up 3-0. 

But Southern Miss began chipping away at LSU's lead soon after. 

Walker, who had a perfect game brewing going into the fourth inning, gave up his first hit to Southern Miss outfielder Gabe Montenregro. Montenegro drove the first pitch of his at bat to deep right field for a solo homer run, cutting LSU's lead to 3-1. 

Walker gave up a leadoff walk, a single and an RBI single before being replaced by junior right-hander Matthew Beck. 

Beck didn't fare much better, giving up an RBI single and a walk before ending the inning on a strikeout after Southern Miss took a 4-3 lead. 

Just like the night before when LSU avoided a Southern Miss comeback, the Tigers didn't stay down for long. 

"We got down one run, but I don't think anybody in the dugout thought we were going to lose that game," Smith said. "That kind of explains how this team is made."

LSU started the inning with back-to-back single from senior Antoine Duplantis and sophomore Daniel Cabrera. Solid stealthy base running puts two runners in scoring position for Zach Watson, who hit an RBI single to center field to score two runs and retake the lead.

Sophomore catcher Saul Garza added to the lead with an RBI double to deep center field to make the score 6-4 in the Tigers' favor. 

Sophomore right-handers Trent Vietmeier and Devin Fontenot both came in and pitched three shutout innings to end the game for the Tigers. Vietmeier allowed two hits, but added two strikeouts through one inning, while Fontenot allowed no hits through two innings. 

Vietmeier said "he went black out" during his inning on the mount and the atmosphere in Alex Box took his break away. 

LSU was close to never being in this position, being on the cusp of hosting a regional, but the Tigers never lost confidence in themselves through the ups and downs of a hard season. 

"I think a lot of people forget that we were the preseason No. 1 team, so this team is a really good team," Smith said. "Some guys are getting healthy again. It's just giving us that whole confidence. We've been down before and that shows you how this team is. Everybody loves winning."

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