On Friday, LSU saw the entire trajectory of the game change in an instant, as it watched Hunter Haas’ three-run home run sail over the left field wall to give Texas A&M a 5-3 lead.
That play cost LSU the game against Texas A&M, and the chance at an SEC title. The Tigers SEC tournament run comes to an end with a 5-4 loss to the Aggies.
Ty Floyd held the fort down in his start on the mound, going 5.0 innings, striking out seven and giving up just one run on three hits.
When he came out of the game, the bullpen couldn’t ride out the momentum. After a double by Austin Bost put Texas A&M down by only one, Sam Dutton replaced Griffin Herring on the mound. Herring went 1.1 innings.
On Dutton’s second pitch, Texas A&M was able to grab a two-run lead off a three-run home run by Hunter Haas. Haas finished the game going one for four with three RBIs.
“I struggled obviously at the beginning of the game, so I kept telling myself, just keep competing,” Haas said. “Don’t think about anything else, just keep competing and you’re going to get a big one.”
Dutton was then taken out and replaced by Javen Coleman. Coleman got LSU out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning to prevent further damage.
But LSU wouldn’t go down without a fight. In the top of the ninth Hayden Travinski and Cade Beloso each had hits to put runners on second and third, and Travinski was able to score shortly after on a pass ball.
However, the Tigers couldn’t string any more together.
In the Tigers’ second loss in a row, they still outhit their opponent. In this matchup, LSU scored four runs on 12 hits, and outhit the Aggies by five hits.
While the production at the plate remained stagnant, the lineup looked somewhat different in that it was missing a key player: Tommy White.
“Yeah, he couldn’t play today,” Johnson said.
But LSU’s lineup was still able to pick up the slack. Beloso led the team going four for five with a double and three singles. Dylan Crews and Brayden Jobert each had two hits; Crews had two singles and Jobert had a double and a single. Gavin Dugas and Travinski also each had doubles.
“It’s not the team with the best players, it’s the team that plays the best, which we’ve done a lot of this year,” Johnson said. “I trust the guys we have on the field, I trust them a lot.”
Texas A&M was controlled at the plate for the majority of the game until the seventh inning, where they scored four runs on four hits.
Austin Bost started that inning with a double, and Jack Moss and Trevor Werner also each had hits in the seventh to keep the Aggies going after Haas’ home run.
Ryan Targac and Jordan Thompson also had doubles for the Aggies.
On the mound for Texas A&M, Will Johnston got the start and went 6.0 innings. He struck out seven while giving up three runs on eight hits. Evan Aschenbeck came in relief for 3.0 innings. He struck out four while giving up a run on four hits.
LSU’s SEC Tournament run has reached its end, and now all focus is on the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers will still host a regional and will be in a good position to have success there.
But the primary concern heading into regional play remains to be the bullpen, and what unfolded Friday is an example of why. Up until Friday, the bullpen pitching was able to hold its own. While the SEC Tournament was a small serving size, it may go to show who can really compete and who can’t.
For the time being up until the NCAA Tournament, Johnson and the team will prepare and rid of any concerns as best as possible.
“We’ll get back to work when we get home and get ready to go for next Friday,” Johnson said. “But it’s [SEC Tournament] an awesome event, other than we’d like to be playing tomorrow.”