Grading LSU's sweep over Kentucky

What we learned about LSU baseball this weekend

Kristian Garic
March 17, 2019 - 6:05 pm

All of a sudden LSU baseball looked like the preseason ranked #1 team in the country, after sweeping Kentucky over the weekend.  The pitching was something special in the first two games of the series. Here are the grades for LSU baseball: 

Pitching: Zach Hess gave LSU 7 brilliant innings on the mound, giving up 4 hits and just one run while striking out 6.  The only complaint I would have about Hess in game one is that he walked six hitters. The Tigers ended up with a 2-1 victory in large part due to the phenomenal relief pitching performance turned in by Devin Fontenot.  The hard throwing sophomore went five innings (into extra innings) giving up just 2 hits and 0 runs striking out 6 and not issuing a walk. He was outstanding!  In game two against Kentucky freshman Cole Henry dazzled with a hurt your feelings curve ball and a plus fastball.  Henry went five innings giving up 3 runs and striking out 6 hitters with 4 walks.  Trent Vietmeier came on in relief of Henry and was dominant! Vietmeier tossed 4 innings out of the bullpen giving up 1 run on 5 hits and 1 walk striking out 6 Kentucky hitters. In game 3 of the series, Erik Walker turned in 4 and 1/3 innings of strong pitching.  Walker ran into trouble in the 5th inning giving up two straight singles.  Mathew Beck came on in relief with runners at 2nd and 3rd and 1 out in the top of the fifth inning.  Kentucky laid down a bunt on Beck’s first pitch to score the runner from third to tie the game. Beck minimized the threat by Kentucky striking out the next hitter, and dominated in his relief appearance not allowing a hit or run. Ma’Khail Hilliard pitched 1 inning of relief giving up 1 run on 1 hit and 2 walks.   Todd Peterson came on for the four out save and series sweep. LSU pitching allowed 15 walks in the three game series with Kentucky but did strike out 34 Kentucky hitters.  That’s a big improvement for a staff that was struggling to strike out hitters and keep them off the bases.
Pitching Grade: A

Hitting:  LSU struggled in game one cashing in offensively.  The Tigers pounded out 8 hits, but went 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position (RISP).  The Tigers only two runs came from Kentucky pitchers walking a runner to the plate from third base. Outfielders Daniel Cabrera and Zach Watson had 5 of the Tigers 8 hits in game one. In game 2, LSU’s offense erupted for 16 runs on 12 hits. Zach Watson led the charge for LSU offensively going 4 for 4 with 4 runs scored and 5 RBI including a 3 run home run. Third baseman Chris Reid continues to produce at the plate.  While Reid is hitting .324, his on base percentage is an eye popping .510. Reid is the early frontrunner for the best story in college baseball this season, considering he was cut from the team in January. In game three the same cast of characters contributed to a 7-2 win.  Chris Reid went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Zach Watson continued to smash the baseball going 2 for 4 at the plate as well. Watson is now hitting .403! The SEC RBI leader Antoine Duplantis drove in two runs hitting his first triple of the year.  
Offensive Grade:  A

Defense:  LSU committed an error in game one and that was the only defensive blemish of the weekend.  That was an area that they wanted to improve on as SEC play opened this weekend.
Defensive grade: A

Coaching: As LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieiri dealt with the death of his father this week, I’m sure he had a heavy heart, but managed the series against Kentucky expertly!
Coaching Grade: A+

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