A seven-run LSU comeback was cut short in the top of the ninth when Louisiana-Lafayette first baseman Scott Hawkins blasted a solo homer to give the Cajuns a 10-9 win on a rainy Wednesday night at Alex Box Stadium.
The third-ranked Tigers (11-3) were down 8-1 in the fourth inning after two three-run homers by Louisiana-Lafayette (6-7-1), but the Tigers clawed back to within two runs at 9-7.
In the bottom of the eighth, Sean Ochinko blasted a two-run homer to tie the game at 9-9. It was Ochinko’s fourth game in a row with a homer and his sixth of the season.
“We dug ourselves a big hole being down 8-1,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I give our kids credit for hanging in there and fighting back. We got some good pitching late in the game that allowed us to have a chance. After Ochinko came through with the big home run to tie the game, I had a feeling we were going to get it done.”
Holding the Cajuns scoreless through two innings of relief was senior Louis Coleman, who gave up no runs and struck out five.
Offensively the Tigers pounded out 13 hits and were led by designated hitter Jared Mitchell, who finished 2-for-3 with an RBI, third baseman Tyler Hanover, who finished 2-for-4 with three RBI, and Ochinko who went 3-for-5 with three runs scored.
LSU trailed 3-0 before they ever stepped to the plate after Cajuns left fielder Travis Whipple hit a three-run homer off LSU starter Nolan Cain in the top of the first. It was the first career home run for Whipple.
The Cajuns increased their lead to 4-0 in the second when pitcher Alex Fuselier reached first on a throwing error by shortstop DJ LeMahieu, scoring center fielder Kyle Olasin.
In the bottom of the second, the Tigers responded when Hanover hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field to score Micah Gibbs, who led off the inning with a single.
Heavy rain in the area halted play for 58 minutes before the start of the third inning with Louisiana-Lafayette ahead 4-1.
The Cajuns' second three-run homer came off the bat of catcher Thad Griffen in the third inning off LSU reliever Spencer Mathews to put the Cajuns on top 7-1.
In the fourth, Fuselier tripled to right before scoring on a two-out single by Lee Smith to make the score 8-1.
LSU responded to cut the lead to 8-2 in the bottom of the fourth when Hanover collected his second RBI of the game when he doubled off the wall in right, scoring Gibbs and advancing Mitchell to third.
The next batter, Ryan Schimpf, hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Mitchell and advance Hanover to third to make the score 8-3.
The Cajuns went up 9-3 in the fifth inning after a throwing error by Gibbs, who was trying to nab an advancing runner at third after a wild pitch.
After three consecutive singles by Blake Dean, Ochinko and Gibbs respectively, Mitchell was hit by a pitch that scored Dean and cut the deficit to 9-4 in the fifth. The next batter, Derek Helenihi hit a slow ground ball towards second that was able to score Ochinko and make the score 9-5.
In the seventh, Ochinko led off with a single followed by a double by Mitchell two batters later. The next batter, Helenihi singled in Ochinko to make the score 9-6. Hanover then grounded out to third, but Mitchell scored cutting the LSU deficit to 9-7.
Freshman Matty Ott (1-1) got the loss for the Tigers after surrendering the game-winning homer to Hawkins. Ott finished the inning strong, striking out two batters and allowing no other hits.