Baton Rouge, La. -- In a much lower scoring affair than their game Friday night, LSU defeated Southern Miss 8-4 on Saturday night in their second game of the tournament. The Tigers are now just one win away from being the Baton Rouge Regional champs.
"This was a critical victory for us tonight," said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "We didn't pull any punches about it. Everybody knew how pivotal the winner's bracket game is. It's the difference between having to win one more or three more."
Freshman starter Cole Henry was on his game early, retiring 9 of 10 batters he faced through the second, third and fourth innings. He threw 5 scoreless and giving-up just 2 hits, walking 3 and striking-out 6.
"I don't think we ever wavered," Henry said. "I think everybody on our whole team knows we're not going down without a fight. We have trust in our hitters and the bullpens guys that come in after me as a starter. I have 100% belief that whoever comes in after me is going to get the job done no matter what."
After one inning of work out of the bullpen from Todd Peterson, Zack Hess came-in with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the 7th and gave-up a grand slam to Matthew Guidry, which tied the game at 4. After that, Hess sat down the next three batters to get out of the inning. Hess ended-up getting the win in 3 innings of relief, striking-out 4 after the grand slam.
LSU got a lead-off double from Daniel Cabrera in the 8th and two batters later, the Tigers had the bases loaded themselves with no outs. Saul Garza then drove-in two runs with an RBI single up the middle, and when the inning was all said and done, LSU was back out front 7-4. They added one more in the top of the 9th to get the 8-4 victory.
Antoine Duplantis, who had tied Eddy Furniss's school record for career hits (352) Friday night, will have to wait another day to sit alone atop that list. Duplantis finished 0-4 and was intentionally walked in his 5th at bat in the 9th inning. Luckily his teammates did the heavy lifting offensively with 13 total hits. Cade Beloso and Zack Watson both had home runs in the game and finished with 2 RBI apiece.
LSU (39-24) plays again Sunday night at 8:00 CT against the winner of the Souther Miss vs. Arizona State game, which is being played at 2:00 p.m. Sunday. If the Tigers win Sunday night, they win the regional and advance to the NCAA Super Regional. If the Tigers lose Sunday night, they'll play one more winner-take-all game Monday afternoon at 3:00 CT.