By Trent Friedel, exclusive to the Times
The LSU Tigers entered the Demon inferno struggling as of late after losing a weekend series to Texas. LSU has had difficulty figuring out their bull pen and the pitching staff has collectively garnered an ERA in excess of 5.05. That’s hardly what you would expect of the pre-season number two ranked Tiger squad.
LSU brought an 11 – 4 record to Brown-Stroud field to challenge defending Southland Conference Champions NSU. If purple is your favorite color, you had no shortage of it on hand for a game that had all the atmosphere you could want for college baseball. The grass covered berms held over flow fans in lawn chairs.
Cullen McDonald toed the rubber for the Demons and had a memorable night on the mound. Athletic director Greg Burke prior to the first pitch remarked, “What a great atmosphere this evening, we thank LSU for traveling up here to play. This is a great opportunity for our baseball team and our fans.”
Josh Smith was the lead off batter for the Tigers. He took a first pitch strike before running the count full and earning a base on balls for the Tigers. Watson hits a dribbler in the infield and everyone is safe. The base runners advance on a double steal and are in scoring position with no outs. Things are not looking good early for Cullen and the Demons. McDonald settles in and records his first out on an LSU batter looking things over. Chris Reid singles to score one runner. LSU can only get one run across the plate as McDonald retires the rest and gives up only one run on one hit and Tigers strand one. Marceaux gets the call on the mound for the Tigers. The Demons ground out, fly out and are sent down in order 1, 2, 3 in the bottom of the first.
LSU would follow suit in the top of the second, they go down in order too. The early innings have each team retiring the other side in order as the teams try to find an advantage. #17 Chris Reid reaches on a single through the right side of the Demon infield past two out stretched defenders. LSU has one on and only one out. The Demons escape the inning with no runs after LSU strands another baserunner.
Tyler Smith reaches base in the fourth inning after being hit by a pitch. The Demons are unable to propel him further and Lagreco goes down swinging to end the inning. LSU strands another runner on base in the top of the fifth and NSU does likewise in the bottom of the frame. Through five innings, LSU retains a one run lead as each team strands runners on base.
The Demons break things open in the bottom of the sixth. Nunez reaches base on a misplayed infield dribbler and it advances a base runner to second. Coach Mainieri goes to his bull pen and Aaron George takes the mound for the Tigers. He issues a base on balls to load the diamond for NSU with no outs. George is quickly retired, and Matthew Beck gets the next chance to end the inning. He strikes out the first Demon he faces and gets the second to pop up an infield fly. NSU would score on a pitch in the dirt and the base runners advance to second and third. Two runners on and two outs for Jeffery Elkins at the plate. The freshman strokes a stand up double to deep left field and the Demons take a 3 – 1 lead over the Tigers. Lenni Kunert goes down swinging to end the inning for NSU but the Demons have the lead.
McDonald sits down the first two batters he faces in the seventh before giving up a single. The hit would be of little use as Brock Mathis flies out to left center and LSU strands another runner on base. Nunez reaches first on a walk with two outs as the Demons look to add insurance runs after the seventh inning stretch. The Demons can’t add runs and strand Nunez at first. #40 Cullen McDonald starts the eighth inning for the Demons with a pitch count of 110. He strikes out the first batter and walks the second. The third batter flies out and then Antoine Duplantis singles past the diving second baseman. LSU has runners on first and second with two outs. Cullen goes 7 and two-thirds innings having thrown 124 pitches and given up just one run. The senior exits to much praise from the Demon faithful and left hander Tyler Pigott gets closing duties. Pigott starts off issuing a walk to load the bases. No rally possum for LSU though as the next batter hits into a fielder’s choice for the out at first. The Demons retain a 3 – 1 lead through 8 innings and have LSU at the tip of the pitch fork.
Todd Peterson #43 toes the mound for LSU in the eight. The junior right hander sits the Demons down in order 1, 2, 3 to end the inning. Three precious outs, just three outs are all NSU needs to put an exclamation mark on a great outing. JUST THREE! Tyler Pigott is up to the task and LSU is sent back to Baton Rouge with the L as the last batter flies out to left field to end the game.
Cullen McDonald on the victory, “It was great going up against LSU, I’m not from Louisiana but I know the excitement generated by beating this team. LSU is a really good team, but we are also. This should build some momentum for our program. I had all the confidence in Tyler Pigott coming out of the bull pen and securing the win for us.” NSU looks to improve their record against LSUA Tuesday but weather forces reschedule to April 17. The victory for the Demons over LSU is the first since 2011.