It may have been a few days since the No. 9 Tigers’ hitters faced Southeastern Louisiana University’s pitching, but it didn’t take long for the bats to awaken Sunday in a 13-1 victory in Alex Box Stadium.
After the two teams’ previous matchup Friday was suspended during the bottom of the first inning due to inclement weather, both the Tigers (6-1) and Lions (5-2) picked up where they left off Sunday afternoon. Brigham Young University delivered LSU its first loss in a 9-4 game Saturday night, so the Tigers looked to regroup against SLU.
Sunday’s contest began with runners on first and third and two outs from Friday’s game. It only took senior first baseman Mason Katz two pitches to start the fireworks, as he launched a three-run home run into the left field bleachers.
“For us to get off to a hot start like that, that’s huge,” said senior left fielder Raph Rhymes. “And to come from a veteran guy like [Katz] and set the tone, that’s big.”
Katz and Rhymes combined for seven hits and 11 RBIs.
The quick start was exactly what the Tigers needed after the squad was deflated one night before.
“That [home run] was huge, especially coming from a loss,” Katz said. “It was a blessing that the game got moved to today so we could lose, then come back today and wash [Saturday night’s loss] away. It set the tone for the whole game. Hitting is contagious. When one person starts hitting, the rest of the team follows through, and that’s exactly what happened.”
LSU collected 13 runs on 19 hits against SLU.
“The biggest thing about today was the way Katz and Rhymes broke out,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I had zero doubt that they would come through. I’m going to go out on a limb and say if we get 11 runs a day from those guys, then we have a pretty decent chance to win.”
Rhymes had a mere one RBI over the squad’s previous six contests.
“I was struggling a little bit early on [in the season], and I think me and Mason [Katz] both realized that it was about time we turn it on, and we had a pretty good day,” Rhymes said.
LSU also received a solid start from junior starting pitcher Ryan Eades (1-0), as he allowed one earned run and recorded five strikeouts in six innings pitched. Eades threw 10 pitches Friday against SLU before being shut down because of the weather, making Sunday’s start unconventional for the right-hander.
“Eades was really outstanding,” Mainieri said. “He only threw 10 pitches the other night, but he went through a half-hour starter’s routine and got himself mentally fired up, and then to have that come to a screeching halt and have to regroup and do this again.”
Eades said he didn’t let the small break affect him on the mound.
“It was a little different for sure,” Eades said. “It’s not something I’ve had to do before, but I just tried to stay focused and stay sharp, be aggressive and make them swing the bats and let my defense play behind me.”