LSU got a gutsy pitching performance from Thatcher Hurd and a balanced offensive effort to defeat South Carolina 10-3 in their opening game of the 2023 SEC Baseball Tournament. The bullpen got some key outs as LSU looks to strengthen that unit in the postseason.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
LSU turned to right-handed pitcher Thatcher Hurd in this game, opting to save ace Paul Skenes for a later appearance in this tournament. Hurd got off to a great start, not allowing a run in his first four innings of work. He ran into some issues in his final inning of work, but battled through five and a third innings and helped set the tone for the Tigers in this one.
The Tigers did not waste much time offensively. In the bottom of the second inning, Brayden Jobert lifted a two-run home run that put LSU out front early on. The Gamecocks answered with a single run in the top of the fifth, but the bottom half of that inning would be where LSU broke things open. A couple of hits mixed with some inability to find this strike zone by South Carolina’s pitching staff led to a four-run inning highlighted by a pair of both RBI walks and RBI sacrifice flies.
The Gamecocks attempted to get back into the ballgame in the top half of the sixth innings. As Hurd began to struggle, South Carolina loaded the bases and scored two runs on RBI walks. However, Nate Ackenhousen came in and got a couple of big outs to limit the damage and keep LSU on top 6-3. Those two runs were answered with two by the Tigers in the bottom half, and two more in the bottom of the seventh grew the lead to 10-3.
The score would remain that way through the conclusion of this contest, with Ackenhousen recording the final three and two thirds.
BIG NUMBER: 16
LSU got sixteen outs from a starting pitcher not named Paul Skenes or Ty Floyd. It may not sound like a huge deal, but the potential emergence of a third starting option would be a welcome development for Jay Johnson’s squad in the postseason.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Thatcher Hurd
LSU’s issues of late have been simple: they need more pitching. Thatcher Hurd went five and a third innings, giving up three runs. However, he gave them a great performance in this game despite the struggles in his final inning of work. If he carries that momentum into regional play and beyond, it makes the Tigers that much more dangerous.
UP NEXT: LSU will be back in action in the winner’s bracket of the SEC Tournament tomorrow May 25th at 4:30 PM against the winner of Arkansas and Texas A&M.