Tigers stun Kennesaw State with 10-run rally in eighth inning to open NCAA Tournament

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.

For the first seven innings of Friday night’s NCAA Tournament opener, LSU was definitely the bug as it was manhandled by the Kennesaw State Owls 11-4 — that is until an incredible comeback happened.

The Tigers scored 10 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to come back and win 14-11 in Game 1 of the Hattiesburg Regional.

Ma'Khail Hilliard got the start on the mound, and he had his shortest start of the year, going only 2.2 innings allowing five runs on five hits, two walks and two strikeouts. The Owls drew first blood as they scored on an RBI single in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, Jordan Thompson tied the game with an RBI double that scored Josh Pearson. In the bottom of the second, Dylan Crews hit an RBI single to give the Tigers their only lead of the ball game as they led 2-1 heading into the third inning.

In the top of the third, the Owls would rally for four runs of their own and take a 5-2 lead over LSU. In the bottom of the third, Brayden Jobert got two of those runs back with a two-run homer to right field to cut the lead to 5-4.

Kennesaw State added two runs in the fourth and four runs in the fifth to build a lead of 11-4 and that score held until the bottom of the eighth inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Jacob Berry hit an RBI single up the middle to score Josh Stevenson and give the Tigers some hope as they had runners on the corners with zero outs.

Pearson followed that with an RBI single of his own to make it 11-6 Owls. There were still no outs and runners on first and second as Thompson stepped into the box and he proceeded to hit an RBI double to score Berry and put two runners in scoring position with no one out. The Owls opted to bring in a new pitcher before facing Tre Morgan.

It was a golden opportunity for the Tigers to possibly make a miraculous comeback: two runners in scoring position, no outs, Morgan at the plate, and an 11-7 ball game. What would the talented sophomore do?

Morgan hit a two-RBI single to center field and brought both Pearson and Thompson home, and just like that, it was a two-run game.

At this point, it was a battle at the bat rack as everyone wanted a turn. Cade Doughty stepped in and hit a single before Tyler McManus stepped up to the plate. McManus drew a walk and loaded the bases with no one out.

Jobert grounded into a fielder’s choice, but a run scored in the process to make it 11-10 Owls. Stevenson stepped into the box with runners on the corners and one out. The tying run was only 90 feet away at third base.

Stevenson walked, and the bases were loaded once again. This time, Crews was the man stepping into the batter’s box with a chance to tie the game or take the lead. Crews hit a two-RBI double to left-center field, and the Tigers have the lead.

Pearson stepped in and hit a two-RBI single of his own to extend LSU’s lead to 14-11. Thompson grounded into a double play to end the inning, but not before the Tigers plated 10 runs and took a three-run lead heading into the ninth.

Paul Gervase came in to close the game out in the top of the ninth inning. He got the first batter to line out and the second one to strike out before the Owls got a runner on base with a single. Gervase got the next batter to fly out, and the Tigers secured the win. LSU moves on in the winner’s bracket to face regional host Southern Miss on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT.


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