It was a pitcher’s duel between No. 13 LSU and South Alabama for most of Wednesday night, but LSU broke through in the seventh inning to win 2-0. The two teams waited an extra months and a half to play after the original game was postponed in February.
Sophomore pitcher Ma'Khail Hilliard started on the mound for LSU (21-9, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) and dominated in his three innings pitched. The right-hander struck out five of the nine batters he faced, and almost exclusively used his fastball to do it.
Coach Paul Mainieri expects to use Hilliard out of the bullpen this weekend against No. 9 Texas A&M, and Mainieri said he was glad to see Hilliard get through three innings after tiring out multiple times post two innings. The outing dropped Hilliard's ERA to 1.12 through 16 innings pitched on the season.
"I thought Ma'Khail was tremendous tonight. That was really key," Mainieri said.
"His velocity was up today. That was the best Ma'Khail has looked, and that was really encouraging for us."
Junior pitcher Matthew Beck was also solid in relief for Hilliard. Beck gave up one hit and one walk but held South Alabama off the scoreboard. His ERA is now 0.96 and is second on the team in that category behind senior Clay Moffitt so far this season.
As well as LSU’s pitching staff performed, the bats for the team struggled to find provide any support for most of the night. Through six innings the team only had three hits but combined for six walks. However, runners were caught stealing second three times, and in the first inning junior center fielder Zach Watson struck out and was called for batter’s interference, resulting in junior shortstop Josh Smith getting called out at second to end the inning.
LSU only had three base runners the next two innings, but its chances at runs were dashed by a double play and a failed steal attempt.
In the fifth LSU pieced together its second and third hits of the game, but once again, nothing came of it. The Tigers stranded another two runners on base in the sixth inning before senior right fielder Antoine Duplantis broke through with a two-out RBI infield single.
The hit was No. 308 for Duplantis and moved him into fifth on LSU’s all-time hit list.
In the eighth inning, LSU loaded the bases and senior third baseman Chris Reid scored on a wild pitch to extend LSU’s lead to 2-0. After a scoreless three innings by sophomore pitcher Trent Vietmeier and junior pitcher Todd Peterson, LSU turned to sophomore Devin Fontenot to finish off the game.
"[Tuesday's game against Grambling] I couldn't have asked for more than what we got, and today was virtually exactly what we wanted to see happen," Mainieri said.