After a rough offensive weekend in Houston, the LSU offense found their groove again back home in Alex Box Stadium. With 12 runs on 12 hits, the Tigers won Saturday’s game against the UMass Lowell River Hawks, 12-2.
The downpour started in the first inning with a couple of two-out walks from Daniel Cabrera and Cade Beloso. Mitchell Sanford came to the plate with confidence and drove in his first RBI with a base hit up the middle.
In the second inning, LSU continued their momentum set by Friday night’s 11-run performance. A lightning-fast sequence was catalyzed by a Giovanni DiGiacomo base hit, who advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt and then stole third. Collier Cranford converted on DiGiacomo’s activity to earn him his first RBI of the year. Cabrera then drove him in with an RBI single.
Cabrera continued his strong day at the plate in the fourth with an RBI single to score two more runs. The junior right fielder is batting .365, has 10 RBIs, and leads the team in walks with 12.
“I’m not trying to do too much,” Cabrera said. “I know the doubles, the homers; they come, so I’m just going up there with an approach and sticking to it.”
The floodgates opened in the fifth. The Tigers put up five runs in the inning, headlined by DiGiacomo’s two-run single to score Beloso and Sanford. DiGiacomo has been on a tear this season, hitting .367 and adding five stolen bases.
“I’m pretty comfortable right now,” DiGiacomo noted. “I’m just seeing it and feeling good. I’ve really been working with Eddie Smith on just trying to be more consistent and more relaxed and just seeing the ball better, and I think it’s been working really well.”
Cranford came through again in the sixth inning with another RBI single. He finished with three hits on the night, as well as five RBIs total so far this weekend.
The Tigers were aided by five errors committed by the River Hawks and received ten free baserunners on six walks and four hit-by-pitches. This gave LSU batting plenty of opportunities to convert the runners into plated runs. LSU scored in a variety of ways in the game, but a major key to Tiger run production was pressure on River Hawk pitchers caused by their baserunning activity from the bottom of the order.
“When you got guys like (DiGiacomo and Cranford), especially with speed and with them on the base paths, it makes the pitcher a little more nervous,” Cabrera explained. “They’ve got to throw more fastballs for the guys in the top of the order so they don’t steal. It puts a lot more pressure on their defense with guys with their types of speed.”
LSU was bolstered by strong pitching performances from starter Landon Marceaux and relief pitcher Jaden Hill, and the offense gave them more than enough cushion to pitch with confidence and ease throughout the evening.
Marceaux had a season-high eight strikeouts in five innings of work and earned the win for the Tigers. Hill delivered a stellar four inning performance, as he picked up three strikeouts and did not allow a hit.
“I thought [Marceaux] pitched really outstanding and we were able to get him out of the game after five innings, which is something I wanted to do to keep his pitch count down, make sure he’s good and healthy for next weekend,” coach Paul Mainieri said.
“He was very efficient and threw the ball really well.” Mainieri added about Hill. “When you have two pitchers like that go out there, it makes it hard for the other team.”
The series win marks LSU’s third of the season, and the Saturday victory puts them at 10-5 on the year. Next up for the Tigers is the final game of the series Sunday, a midweek home game Wednesday against South Alabama, and the start of SEC play next weekend against #8 Ole Miss in Oxford, MS.
With the consistent strength of LSU’s pitching thus far, the Tigers have been searching for the same with their bats. Friday and Saturday’s performances are a welcome sign that those hopes may come true.