LSU was on the brink of elimination, and a dominating pitching performance from sophomore Devin Fontenot wasn't enough to keep the Tigers alive as they fell 5-4 in 12 innings to Florida State.
Fontenot shutout Florida State for six innings before finally giving up the game-winning run to Florida State's Drew Mendoza.
"For our team it's a tough loss," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "Both of these nights were tough, but I'm so proud of our guys. They gave it everything they had."
LSU fell down early after freshman starting pitcher Landon Marceaux gave up three runs in a rough second inning. Marceaux opened the inning with a leadoff walk and gave up back-to-back singles to load the bases with no outs. He then forced a ground out to first, and freshman Cade Beloso’s throw home to sophomore catcher Saul Garza was in time but Garza failed on to hold the ball on the tag.
The umpires originally ruled the runner but overturned the call after review. Two more RBI singles in the inning gave Florida State a 3-0 lead, but senior right field Antoine Duplantis cut into it with a solo home run to right field.
Florida State regained a three-run advantage with a RBI double in the fourth inning, and Mainieri decided to pull Marceaux through 3.2 innings. The freshman gave up four runs, only two earned on eight hits and one walk with two strikeouts.
Junior Matthew Beck came in to get the final out of the inning and got out the fifth inning unscathed after a leadoff walk.
LSU’s offense began to put things together in the sixth inning. The top of LSU’s order had three straight singles to cut the lead to 4-2. After a groundout moved both runners into scoring position, a base running error by freshman designated hitter Giovanni DiGiacomo at third base gave Florida State the second out of the inning. Beloso then flied out to end the inning, and things began to look bleak for LSU.
However, Beck got through the first two batters of the bottom of the order before Fontenot came in the game. He retired four straight batters to get LSU to the top of the eighth inning down 4-2, and with the top of the order back up and facing CJ Van Eyk for the fourth time around, LSU found life.
Junior shortstop Josh Smith led off with a double and was brought home by Duplantis, who hit his third RBI of the game. Smith scored all four times in the first two games he reached on a leadoff hit against Florida State.
A single by sophomore left field Daniel Cabrera moved Duplantis to third, and a single by junior center fielder Zach Watson brought Duplantis in to tie the game. However, Watson tried to reach second on the throw to the cutoff man and was called out on a close play at bag, and another baserunning blunder by LSU gave Florida State an out. Beloso grounded out to end the inning, keeping things tied at four.
Fontenot sent Florida State down in order in the eighth, but he got in trouble with a leadoff walk in the ninth, giving Florida State its first base runner since the fifth inning. He bounced back with a strikeout, and Garza made up for his early mistake by gunning a runner out at second on an attempted hit-and-run.
What may have been the finest outing of Devin Fontenot's career will go down as a loss. Howe…
After a two-out walk, Fontenot faced Reese Albert, who had two home runs in game one, and with the game on the line, he struck Albert out to send the game to extra innings.
The sophomore reliever continued to hold down Florida State in extras and picked up another three strikeouts in the process of retiring six straight batters.
However, as LSU’s offense continued to stall in extra innings, Fontenot couldn’t hold Florida State off forever. With two outs, a man on second, and a 2-2 count, Mendoza hit a walk off single to right field. Fontenot’s final line read 6.1 innings pitched, one run allowed on two hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts.
"That was one of the best relief performances I've seen a kid give," Smith said. "He's competed like that all year. He's struggled at times, but for him to come in and do that tells you what kind of kid he is and what kind of team this is."
It was the second time in four years LSU has been eliminated on a walk off at Alex Box in the Super Regionals.