No. 1 LSU (4-0) beat Southeastern 6-5 in a cold, damp night in an almost empty Alex Box Stadium after the game was pushed up due to inclement weather on Tuesday.
"I'm glad we got the win — it turned out to be an exciting game," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "The conditions were just brutal out here all day. It was wet, windy, cold just a dreary day."
Sophomore Eric Walker was moved up to start the game after LSU’s Wednesday game against Northwestern State was cancelled. However, Walker became sick and the starting spot moved to freshman Cole Henry.
His debut started off a bit rough due to defensive errors and umpire review. Southeastern (0-4) scored its first run on a fielding error by sophomore left fielder Daniel Cabrera in the first, and an error by freshman first baseman Drew Bianco helped load the bases, but Henry was able to escape the jam.
In the third inning, Henry struck the batter out, and freshman catcher Brock Mathis gunned down the runner at second for an inning-ending double play, but the umpires reviewed the play and ruled the runner safe. Henry fell a part from there as Nick Ray hit a 2-RBI double after homering in the second inning.
The freshman eventually loaded the bases in the inning, and was replaced by freshman reliever Chase Costello, who picked up the third out on his first pitch.
"Tuesday games always worry me because we take Monday off," Mainieri said. "You have a very emotional weekend like we did — even though it wasn't an SEC weekend — it was opening weekend and we had two very thrilling games. Then Sunday we had a pretty good game all-around. I don't get to see the kids until we take the field again on Tuesday and I just don't think we did a very good job of getting them ready to play."
Offensively, LSU once again opened by scoring in the first – something they’ve done in all its games this season. Junior shortstop Josh Smith opened the game with a single and advanced to third on two wild pitches. Junior center fielder Zach Watson brought Smith home, and Cabrera, who reached on a walk, scored on a single by sophomore designated hitter Saul Garza.
In the seventh inning, Southeastern held a 5-4 lead when Smith came back up to bat. After missing most of last season with a stress reaction in his back, Smith looked to have possibly suffered another injury when he was hit in the face by a pitch.
The junior staggered down the first base line clutching his mouth before LSU’s training staff and Mainieri came out to check on him. Smith was checked for a concussion, but he was cleared to keep playing.
"When he got in the mouth I saw our whole season go down the drain," Mainieri said. "I feel so bad for that kid, he's so valuable to our team and I hate to put so much on one player.
"He's our shortstop, he's our leader, and he took one right in the mouth."
Mainieri said Smith told him none of his teeth feel loose, but he does have a swollen lip and bloody mouth.
Senior second baseman Brandt Broussard laid down a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error resulted in both players safe in scoring position. Smith scored on an infield hit by senior left fielder Antoine Duplantis, who now has 11 RBIs on the season.
The Tigers took the lead in the eighth after Mathis singled into left field to score freshman outfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo.
Junior closer Todd Peterson took over from there. After a fly out to open the ninth, Peterson struck out the last two batters and earned his second win of the season.