With aces Alex Lange and Mac Sceroler taking the mound, we easily could have seen a low-scoring pitchers’ duel on Saturday night. Instead, we got a shootout from the very start. However, it was LSU that lasted the longest and won 11-6 to reach Sunday’s regional championship game.
The Tigers’ offense picked up where it left off. They scored 10+ runs for the third time in their last four games, and no one was bigger in the lineup than freshman center fielder Zach Watson.
He continued his huge weekend that started Friday and crushed two more home runs against the Lions en route to a three-RBI performance. Even bigger was the way that Watson responded to batting higher in the lineup. A hand injury to first baseman Nick Coomes meant someone had to fill his spot batting fifth in the order, and he responded in a major way.
“I kept the same approach as I did yesterday,” says Watson. “I wasn’t trying to do too much, just hit the ball up the middle.”
“This fall, when he came here, he was a very raw baseball player,” says Paul Mainieri. “He was a freshman. He made a lot of mistakes. But you could just see him being a sponge for learning and getting better everyday. He’s really got a lot of tools. He just needed to get into the flow of the game and learn how to play it at this level.”
And as rocky as the start was for Alex Lange, giving up five runs through two innings, he finished by shutting down the Lions the next four innings. His six strikeouts in six innings of work were good enough to earn Lange his ninth win of the season.
Zack Hess, meanwhile, shook off a Taylor Schwaner home run to settle in and strike out four in two innings. Hunter Newman shut the door in the ninth.
As for the Lions, they’ve got their work cut out for them going forward. They’ll have to win three straight games from here to advance out of the regional, and it starts with Rice.
“At some point and time in the year, you’re going to be playing for your life,” says Southeastern head coach Matt Riser. “We put ourselves in that position now.”
Their matchup with the Owls on Sunday is set for 3 p.m.
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