WATCH: Bryce Jordan, Josh Smith home runs lift LSU baseball to season-opening win

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BATON ROUGE, La. — So much for the LSU baseball team lacking power.

Despite a rough outing by starting pitcher Caleb Gilbert, late home runs saved LSU in its 2018 season opener Friday night, as the Tigers came back from a 6-run deficit to defeat Notre Dame 7-6. Junior catcher Bryce Jordan opened up the scoring for LSU with a grand slam in the sixth inning and sophomore shortstop Josh Smith followed with a go-ahead 3-run shot snuck just inside the right-field foul pole in the eighth inning.

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Making his return from an ACL injury that sidelined him for all of 2017, Jordan sparked LSU’s comeback with an at-bat to remember. Antoine Duplantis opened the sixth inning with a walk, followed by a Zach Watson single and a Daniel Cabrera walk, loading the bases. Jordan ripped the fourth pitch he saw 376 feet into the left field stands for a grand slam, the first of his LSU career and his first home run since May 15, 2016 versus Tennessee.

One at-bat later, Jordan’s twin brother Beau nearly made it back-to-back home runs, drilling a ball deep into left field before it ran out of air on the warning track.

Smith’s theatrics came in an equally unlikely position. After making two errors in his first college start at shortstop, one of which resulting in a run, Smith came to the plate in the eighth inning 0-for-3 on the day with three flyouts and a walk. But with two runners on and two runners out, Smith flipped the narrative, pulling the third pitch he saw over the right field fence, plating Beau Jordan and Chris Reid for the tying runs, and himself for the go-ahead.

Heading into this season, LSU lost 44 of its 69 home runs from 2017 to either graduation, transfer or the MLB draft.

Senior right-hander Austin Bain, who stranded two inherited Notre Dame runners in the eighth, came back out for the ninth and set Notre Dame in order to earn the win.

As for Caleb Gilbert…

Gilbert wasn’t the same dominant pitcher on Friday that he was at the end of 2017. Notre Dame smacked Gilbert early and often, tagging him for 6 runs, 5 earned, on 9 hits in 4.1 innings pitched. The Fighting Irish started their rally with a run on 2 hits in the first inning and added 2 more runs in the third and fourth innings before chasing Gilbert three batters into the fifth inning.

LSU’s defense didn’t do Gilbert any favors, especially early. The Irish scored their first run on an error by shortstop Josh Smith, who was playing in to charge and throw out a runner at home on soft contact. The contact wasn’t soft, however, and Smith couldn’t make the out on what would’ve been a routine grounder had he been positioned normally. Smith made another error in the eighth inning to start off his season with a pair of mistakes.

In the third inning, Notre Dame shortstop Cole Daily led off the frame with an infield single tapped between Gilbert and freshman first baseman Nick Webre. Gilbert fielded the ball but Webre crashed in and second baseman Brandt Broussard didn’t cover first base in time, creating an open window for Daily to reach safely. Daily and left fielder Jake Johnson, who reached on a hit-by-pitch, advanced later in the inning on a Bryce Jordan passed ball and both came around to score.

What’s next for LSU baseball?

LSU returns to action on Saturday for Game 2 of its three-game series versus Notre Dame. Action is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. CT and will be available for stream through WatchESPN.

 

The post WATCH: Bryce Jordan, Josh Smith home runs lift LSU baseball to season-opening win appeared first on SEC Country.

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