Poche' Strong as Baseball Takes Game 2, 5-2
BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU left-hander Jared Poche’ fired seven strong innings Saturday night, allowing just one run on three hits and leading the Tigers to a 5-2 victory in Game 2 against South Carolina in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU improved to 31-16 overall and 14-9 in the SEC, while South Carolina dropped to 27-18 overall and 11-12 in league games.
Game 3 between LSU and South Carolina will be Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on ESPN. It will also be broadcast live on 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge. Fans can also go to LSUsports.net for live stats and audio.
Poche’ (8-3) recorded three strikeouts, and though he gave up six walks, he was able to work himself out of jams throughout the game.
“He was typical Jared Poche’, he bends but he doesn’t break,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “There are a couple of times in the game where the other team thinks they have him, but Poche’ finds another gear, get out of the jam, and then he gets stronger as the game goes on. His best innings tonight were the fifth, sixth and seven innings, where he was really magnificent.”
Hunter Newman earned the save for the Tigers, giving up one hit and one walk in the ninth and inducing the game-ending 4-6-3 double play with runners at first and third.
South Carolina starter Adam Hill (3-4) was charged with the loss, allowing five earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out six in six innings pitched.
South Carolina scored the first run of the game in the top of the fourth, when shortstop Madison Stokes worked a two-out walk with the bases loaded. Poche’ induced a groundout the following at bat, holding the Gamecocks’ lead at 1-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, LSU second baseman Cole Freeman gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead with his first triple of the season. Freeman laced the ball down the right field line, scoring scored Zach Watson and Kramer Robertson. The following at bat, left fielder Antoine Duplantis scored Freeman with a sacrifice fly, pushing the LSU lead to 3-1 through five innings.
“When Cole Freeman got that triple, you could almost feel in the dugout our entire team exhaling,” Mainieri said. “The kids were pressing a little bit at the plate, and somebody has to step up and get it done. Cole Freeman did that, he was a leader tonight.”
“Watson came through with an enormous base hit,” Mainieri said. “They’d been pitching him away, so he went with the ball and got a hit over the second baseman’s head. What a big hit that was for us to extend the lead.”
The Gamecocks narrowed the deficit to three in the top of the eighth. With LSU right-hander Zack Hess pitching in relief of Poche’, South Carolina center fielder TJ Hopkins lined an RBI single up the middle, scoring Jonah Bride from second. Hess limited the damage to one run in the inning, striking out Hunter Taylor looking with Hopkins on third.
Newman walked Stokes to lead off the ninth, and after a one-out single by pinch hitter Alex Destino, South Carolina had runners on the corners. But, leftfielder Carlos Cortes sent a ground ball to Freeman, who started the 4-6-3 double play to end the game.