LEXINGTON, Ky. — In the midst of LSU’s impressive 15-2 win Friday night against Kentucky, the Tigers received something they needed the last three weeks: production from the bottom of the order.
The last five hitters in LSU’s lineup combined for nine of LSU’s 17 hits, providing balance to an offense that had been top-heavy and mostly non-existent since the beginning of Southeastern Conference play.
“It was kind of fun to feel like you could get contributions throughout your lineup instead of relying on two or three guys,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “That’s what a good baseball team looks like.”
Who’s starting, how to watch and what to watch for when LSU plays Game 2 of its weekend series against Kentucky.
As the Tigers started 1-8 in the league, they had averaged three runs per game, often unable to push runs across when players reached base. As a result, they lost five games by three runs or less. They needed more from the bottom of the lineup so they could mount extended rallies.
LSU finally got that Friday night. In the fifth inning, junior designated hitter Cade Beloso singled with the bases loaded to give LSU a 7-0 lead. The next batter, sophomore catcher Hayden Travinski, lofted a sacrifice fly into left field.
Later, with LSU leading 9-2 in the ninth, Beloso singled again with the bases loaded. Travinski also singled as the Tigers batted around to score another six runs and create a blowout.
LSU crushed Kentucky in the first game of their weekend series, 15-2, to snap a six-game conference losing streak.
Beloso and Travinski had struggled this season. Beloso entered with a .209 batting average. Travinski didn’t have a hit in SEC play. They both finished the game 2 for 4 with four RBIs.
“Definitely feels good to get some hits and produce for the team,” Beloso said.
Another spot LSU had received inconsistent production from, center field, changed with the return of junior Giovanni DiGiacomo, who made his second straight start after recovering from a hamstring strain.
Batting fifth, DiGiacomo went 3 for 5 with three singles. Two didn’t leave the infield, but he reached base because of his speed.
Giovanni DiGiacomo may finally be back from his hamstring strain. He brings unmatched range in center field.
“Three spots in the lineup that we hadn’t been getting much offense out of,” Mainieri said, “all of a sudden we got a lot of offense.”
The production from those three players, as well as freshman shortstop Jordan Thompson, who batted sixth and recorded two hits, let LSU play its best offensive game of the season.
It would be unrealistic to expect LSU to play like that the rest of the season, but if the Tigers can maintain balance throughout the lineup, giving their best hitters more at-bats with runners on base, they’ll have a better chance to pull themselves from the bottom of the SEC standings.