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Tigers Take Opening Game in Hattiesburg Regional, 14-11

LSU scores 10 runs in the eighth inning to erase an 11-4 deficit and defeat Kennesaw State. The Tigers will face Southern Miss at 6 p.m. CT Saturday.

by Bill Franques
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Tigers Take Opening Game in Hattiesburg Regional, 14-11

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – LSU erupted for 10 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday night to erase an 11-4 deficit and record a 14-11 victory over Kennesaw State in the first round of the NCAA Hattiesburg Regional at Pete Taylor Park.

LSU (39-20), the No. 2 seed in the regional, will meet No. 1 seed Southern Mississippi at 6 p.m. CT Saturday. Kennesaw State (35-27) will face Army at 12 p.m. CT Saturday in an elimination game.

The LSU-Southern Miss game on Saturday night will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network including, and streamed on ESPN+.

LSU’s comeback from a seven-run deficit tied its largest in an NCAA Tournament. In 1999, the Tigers defeated East Carolina, 12-10, in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional after falling behind, 9-2, in the fourth inning; in 1998, LSU beat Cal State Fullerton, 13-11, in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional after trailing, 7-0, in the second inning.

The Tigers on Friday night trailed 11-4 entering the bottom of the eighth inning and exploded for 10 runs on seven hits to surge ahead of the Owls. LSU sent 14 batters to the plate during the rally, and the first eight hitters in the inning reached base safely.

“Wow, big fan of that eighth inning,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “A lot of people talk about character and culture and competitiveness, and that was all of that on display. I’m really proud of these guys for sticking with it.

“We’d love to sit around and celebrate it because it’s a win that should be celebrated, but we’ve got to get ready to go tomorrow.”

An RBI single by third baseman Jacob Berry scored the first run of frame, and leftfielder Josh Pearson’s run-scoring single closed the deficit to 11-6.

Shortstop Jordan Thompson followed with an RBI double before first baseman Tre’ Morgan drilled a two-run single to bring cut the Kennesaw State lead to two runs.

A fielder’s choice groundout by Jobert added another run before centerfielder Dylan Crews smashed a two-run double to give LSU a 12-11 lead. Pearson capped the inning with a two-RBI single, increasing the Tigers’ advantage to 14-11.

“With Dylan, I’ve never been so confident that a player was going to get a big hit in my entire life than when he walked up to the plate,” Johnson said.

LSU reliever Paul Gervase earned his sixth save of the season by pitching a scoreless ninth inning, allowing one hit with one strikeout.

Devin Fontenot (3-2), the third of four LSU pitchers, pitched brilliantly to earn the win, as he entered the game in the fifth inning and worked 3.1 scoreless frames, allowing just two hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

“We don’t win the game if Devin doesn’t come in and settle the game,” Johnson said. “It’s the best performance out of him this year when we really needed that.”

Kennesaw State reliever Smith Pinson (6-6) was charged with the loss, as he allowed three runs on two hits in the eighth inning without recording an out.

Kennesaw State grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when centerfielder Josh Hatcher led off the game with a double and scored on a two-out single by third baseman Cash Young.

LSU tied the game in the bottom of the first when Pearson doubled and scored on a double by Thompson.

Crews delivered an RBI single in the second to give the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.

The Owls struck for four runs in the third in an outburst that featured a two-run double by first baseman Donovan Cash, an RBI triple by designated hitter Spencer Hanson and a run-scoring single by rightfielder Brayden Eidson.

Jobert launched a two-run homer – his 18th dinger of the year —  in the bottom of the third to narrow the deficit to 5-4.

However, Kennesaw State second baseman Tyler Simon unloaded a two-run homer against reliever Riley Cooper in the top of fourth, extending the Owls’ lead to 7-4.

The Owls added four runs in the fifth on an RBI double by catcher Nick Hassan, an RBI single by Hatcher and a two-run single by Simon.