In this week's Three Up, Three Down, TSD's Hunter Paniagua examines how good Chris Cotton has been…
No. 8 LSU completes sweep of Washington
The Tigers strung together 11 hits with each of the first three batters in the lineup recording multi-hit games. The series marked the first time LSU (15-1) had scored at least seven runs in a three-game weekend since May 13-15, 2011 against Tennessee.
"That gives our pitchers a lot of confidence, and our offense a lot of confidence," said Alex Bregman, who went 2-for-4 Sunday with two RBI. "We're capable of being consistent like that, and at least putting together quality at-bats. That's what we did this weekend."
In a series that the LSU starters uncharacteristically allowed a combined 10 earned runs, the offense carried the load. With the Tigers facing its first deficit of the weekend against Washington (4-11) on Sunday, the LSU bats proved clutch responding quickly without looking back.
LSU fell behind in the second inning as Washington notched a pair of runs off Cody Glenn. DH Michael Camporeale led off the inning with a single, and RF Will Sparks followed suit with a base hit to left-center.
3B Andrew Ely moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, and a wild pitch by Glenn brought in a run. Two batters later, SS Erik Forgione added another with a grounder to third base.
"Early on I didn't have my best stuff, and I was leaving it up a little bit," Glenn said. "It showed through the first two innings and that's why they were able to scratch a couple off me."
The Tigers responded in a big way, regaining the lead in the bottom of the second. With a stiff wind blowing directly to left field, Mason Katz floated one that carried into the stands to tie it 2-2, his third homer of the series. Three batters later, Ty Ross added a solo homer of his own, with a deep blast that cleared the left field bleachers.
"I came to the park this morning and saw that flag blowing straight out to left field, I was expecting a pretty big offensive day for us," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri.
After that second inning, Glenn settled down and didn't allow a run in his next 3 2/3 innings of work. He allowed only three hits, with three strikeouts, and exited with two outs in the sixth inning and a runner on third.
Nick Rumbelow relieved Glenn and promptly struck out the first batter he faced to escape the slight jam.
"[Glenn] showed me something today that I hadn't seen yet," Mainieri said. "He could have gotten very frustrated earlier in the game with some of the cheap hits they got. But he didn't appear that way at all to me. He made some big pitches, and he showed a maturity today that I really liked."
At that point, LSU had taken a 7-2 lead with runs scored in the third, fifth and sixth innings. Bregman brought in Chris Sciambra — who scored twice Sunday — in the third with a single to left, and added another RBI with a triple to deep left-center in the fifth, then scored when the throw to third sailed into the dugout.
Washington mounted a slight comeback starting in the seventh inning. Rumbelow allowed a pair of runs after walking the leadoff man, then allowing a triple with another run scoring on a wild pitch.
Hunter Newman replaced Rumbelow and prevented any more damage in the seventh, thanks in part to a leaping catch by JaCoby Jones that recorded the third out.
Defense saved LSU again in the eighth. After Newman was charged with another earned run to cut the lead to 7-5, Bregman made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch in shallow left-center field to save a run.
"We made some spectacular defensive plays there toward the end," Mainieri said. "If they don't make those the plays, the game could be entirely different…Our defense really won the game for us in the end."
Chris Cotton entered in the ninth and earned his fifth save of the season with a perfect inning.
"We couldn't just come through with the dagger to put the other team away, and we let them hang around," Mainieri said. "You're always worried when that happens…but at the very end of the game, our pitching was tremendous."
LSU returns to action Wednesday for its final contest before the start of SEC play. The Tigers will host Nicholls State, whom they beat 2-0 on March 3.
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