It was another rough performance for LSU against an SEC opponent Saturday afternoon against Arkansas. The Razorbacks more than had their way with LSU, destroying the Tigers by a score of 17-10. Tiger pitching gave up 19 hits as Arkansas hitters continued to barrel the ball all over the field. Arkansas clinched the weekend series with the win.
Defeating the No. 1 team in the country was guaranteed to be a challenge for a struggling LSU team, but the past two nights must be frustrating for a team on the brink of missing the NCAA tournament altogether. This weekend was a tremendous opportunity to prove to the committee that this LSU team still had some life buried deep in it. While the Tigers’ RPI sat at 24 coming into the weekend, due to the No. 1 ranked strength of schedule they possess, this was a golden opportunity to add quality wins to the portfolio.
The bleeding began from the jump. AJ Labas gave up five runs and five hits in the first inning, putting LSU in a whole early. LSU had opportunities to cut down the lead down and converted on a few, with runs scored by Gio DiGiacomo and Alex Milazzo off wild pitches. While Labas pitched three shutout innings after, in the fifth inning he was greeted with an onslaught of four straight hits, all of which came around to score at some point. Blake Money in immediate relief gave up a two-run home run to Robert Moore, and the game was blown open from there.
One of the assumptions going into the season was LSU’s reliance on veteran pitching to get them outs and give them chances to win. That has not been the case. LSU ranks 12th in the SEC in team ERA at 5.30. Only two LSU pitchers have a sub-3.00 ERAs: standout starter Landon Marceaux and veteran closer Devin Fontenot.
LSU’s offense was slow again throughout the game until the later innings. The bats tallied 14 hits, after only racking up just three hits last night. DiGiacomo led LSU with four hits that resulted in two RBIs and two runs. The youth of LSU’s lineup has been on display throughout SEC play, as they have ranked in the bottom half of the conference in runs and batting average. There have been a lot of freshmen and sophomores that have not had SEC experience yet, and it has been evident throughout conference play. However, the issue today was clearly the pitching as the bats did make their run in the late innings.
The Tigers will look to rally for the second game of the day coming up this evening. Salvaging a win over the best team in the country would still help the Tigers’ struggling resume. They currently sit at 6-14 in conference play. The starter for game 3 will be senior righty Ma'Khail Hilliard.