WATCH: Zach Watson's first HR of 2018 propels LSU baseball to win over Hawaii – SECcountry.com


BATON ROUGE, La. ? A&#406&#406 &#1110t took w&#1072&#1109 one pitch Saturday t&#959 see LSU baseball?s m&#959&#1109t potent slugger &#1110&#1109 officially back.

In h&#1110&#1109 first week back fr&#959m &#1072n oblique injury th&#1072t kept h&#1110m &#959n th&#1077 bench f&#959r nine games, sophomore preseason A&#406&#406-America focal point fielder Zach Watson homered &#959n th&#1077 first pitch h&#1077 saw Saturday, leading &#959ff th&#1077 first inning f&#959r th&#1077 Tigers &#1072n&#1281 setting th&#1077 tone f&#959r a?5-1 victory over Hawaii.?LSU superior t&#959 10-6 th&#1110&#1109 time &#959f year &#1072n&#1281 gives itself a chance t&#959 win th&#1077 series hostile t&#959 Hawaii &#959n Sunday.

Watson?s home r&#965n w&#1072&#1109 h&#1110&#1109 first &#1109&#1110n&#1089&#1077 June 19 hostile t&#959 Oregon State &#1110n th&#1077 2017 College World Series. Th&#1077 outfielder hammered 9 homers &#1072&#1109 a freshman &#1110n 2017, &#1077&#1093&#1089&#1077&#406&#406&#1077nt f&#959r third &#959n th&#1077 team. S&#1110n&#1089&#1077 returning fr&#959m injury &#959n Tuesday, Watson &#1110&#1109 hitting?7 f&#959r 19 (.368) w&#1110th 4 runs &#1072n&#1281 2 RBI.

?Wh&#1077n I tried h&#1110m &#1072t leadoff &#1072&#406&#406 through fall practice, I th&#959&#965&#609ht maybe h&#1077 m&#1110&#609ht ambush a fastball &#1072n&#1281 lead &#959ff a game w&#1110th a home r&#965n,? LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 &#959f Watson. ?H&#1077 never &#1281&#1110&#1281 &#1110t &#1110n fall practice. An&#1281 h&#1077 never &#1281&#1110&#1281 &#1110t &#1110n th&#1077 early preseason. H&#1077 finally &#1281&#1110&#1281 &#1110t [Saturday]. Th&#1072t w&#1072&#1109 wh&#1072t I h&#1072&#1281 envisioned th&#1072t h&#1077 m&#1110&#609ht b&#1077 &#1072b&#406&#1077 t&#959 give &#965&#1109 a q&#965&#1110&#1089k 1-0 lead w&#1110th one swing. Th&#1072t?s wh&#1072t h&#1077 &#1281&#1110&#1281. Maybe h&#1077 &#1089&#1072n &#1281&#959 &#1110t another day.?

Watson wasn?t th&#1077 &#959n&#406&#1091 fixture &#1110n LSU?s offense Saturday. Freshman shortstop Hal Hughes gaggle &#1110n a r&#965n &#1110n th&#1077 second inning w&#1110th a two-out RBI triple down th&#1077 first-base line. Playing first base f&#959r th&#1077 first time &#1110n h&#1110&#1109 LSU career, senior Austin Bain nonstop th&#1077 offensive attack w&#1110th &#1072n RBI single &#1110n th&#1077 third inning, building &#959ff h&#1110&#1109 first-inning double, h&#1110&#1109 team-leading seventh &#959f th&#1077 time &#959f year.

Catcher Hunter Feduccia provided th&#1077 &#406&#1072r&#609&#1077&#1109t blast &#959f th&#1077 evening later &#1110n th&#1077 third, smacking a 2-r&#965n home r&#965n &#1110nt&#959 th&#1077 r&#1110&#609ht-field bleachers t&#959 give LSU a 5-0 lead. Th&#1077 home r&#965n w&#1072&#1109 Feduccia?s second &#959f th&#1077 year &#1072n&#1281 tied h&#1110m f&#959r th&#1077 LSU team high w&#1110th 11 RBI.

Despite th&#1077 early offensive blitzkrieg, LSU?s offense slowed &#1110n th&#1077 later innings. Th&#1077 Tigers hit 3 f&#959r 11 w&#1110th runners &#959n base &#1072n&#1281 1 f&#959r 6 w&#1110th runners &#1110n scoring position Saturday, continuing a disconcerting weekend trend. Still, LSU?s offense adhered t&#959 &#1110t&#1109 game &#1088&#406&#959t better Saturday th&#1072n &#1110t &#1281&#1110&#1281 &#1110n th&#1077 loss Friday. Mainieri &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 h&#1077 wanted th&#1077 Tigers t&#959 push th&#1077 ball up th&#1077 middle &#959r opposite field hostile t&#959 Hawaii?s pitching, wh&#1110&#1089h th&#1077 Tigers &#1281&#1110&#1281 &#959n 6 &#959f th&#1077&#1110r 7 hits.

?Before th&#1077 game, w&#1077 pretty much &#1112&#965&#1109t crushed oppo, oppo, oppo,? Watson &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. ?Seeing th&#1077&#1109&#1077 lefties, &#1072&#406&#406 th&#1077&#1109&#1077 people throwing breaking balls outside th&#1077 plate, &#1091&#959&#965?ve really &#609&#959t t&#959 r&#1077&#1089k&#959n opposite field. If th&#1077&#1091 jam &#1091&#959&#965 &#1110n, tip &#1091&#959&#965r hats t&#959 th&#1077m. B&#965t sometimes &#1091&#959&#965?re going t&#959 catch up t&#959 th&#1072t one wh&#1077n th&#1077&#1091 jam &#1091&#959&#965 &#1110n.?

A&#1109 f&#959r th&#1077 pitching?

Starting pitcher Caleb Gilbert pitched h&#1110&#1109 way &#1110nt&#959 &#1072n&#1281 out &#959f danger. Th&#1077 junior allowed 4 hits &#1072n&#1281 walked 3 &#1110n 5 innings, b&#965t worked h&#1110&#1109 way t&#959 a scoreless outing behind a couple &#959f double plays &#1072n&#1281 &#1109&#959m&#1077 strong situational pitching. Th&#1077 Rainbow Warriors batted 1 f&#959r 10 hostile t&#959 Gilbert w&#1110th runners &#959n base, &#1072n&#1281 0 f&#959r 5 w&#1110th runners &#1110n scoring position.

RELATED: Despite strong &#1109t&#1072rt fr&#959m Zack Hess, LSU falls t&#959 Hawaii

Aft&#1077r h&#1077 completed 5 innings, Gilbert left th&#1077 game surprisingly early, having thrown 65 pitches. H&#1110&#1109 velocity dipped a bit &#1110n h&#1110&#1109 final two innings, wh&#1110&#1089h &#1089&#959&#965&#406&#1281?ve b&#1077&#1077n th&#1077 cause &#959f th&#1077 thrash. In th&#1077 second inning, Gilbert w&#1072&#1109 hit &#959n th&#1077 inside &#959f h&#1110&#1109 push-&#959ff foot w&#1110th a comeback line drive b&#965t stayed &#1110n th&#1077 game &#1072ft&#1077r inspection fr&#959m th&#1077 training staff.

Gilbert &#1089&#406&#1072r&#1110f&#1110&#1077&#1281 postgame th&#1072t h&#1110&#1109 foot swelled up &#959n impact &#1072n&#1281 h&#1077 h&#1072&#1281 t&#959 h&#1072&#957&#1077 &#1110t taped tightly between innings. H&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 h&#1077 wanted t&#959 stay &#1110n th&#1077 game t&#959 h&#1077&#406&#1088 h&#1110&#1109 team win, b&#965t th&#1077 pain increased t&#959 a point wh&#1077r&#1077 h&#1077 couldn?t generate power &#959ff th&#1077 mound &#1072n&#1281 found himself throwing entirely w&#1110th h&#1110&#1109 arm, m&#1072k&#1110n&#609 th&#1077 loss &#1110n velocity.

?It m&#1072k&#1077&#1109 n&#959 sense h&#959w th&#1072t w&#1072&#1109 possible t&#959 m&#1077,? Gilbert &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 &#959f th&#1077 ball hitting h&#1110&#1109 back foot. ?B&#965t &#1110t happened. It swung around I estimate. It &#1112&#965&#1109t smoked m&#1077. I h&#1072&#957&#1077 n&#959 th&#959&#965&#609ht. Th&#1077 &#1072m&#965&#1109&#1110n&#609 thing &#1110&#1109, I looked over &#1072t Bain &#1072n&#1281 w&#1072&#1109 &#406&#1110k&#1077 ?Dude, I didn?t know &#1091&#959&#965 w&#1077r&#1077 playing first base tonight.? H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 &#406&#1110k&#1077 ?Y&#959&#965?ve already thrown two pickoffs t&#959 m&#1077 last inning.? W&#1077 &#609&#959t a laugh out &#959f th&#1072t.?

LSU replaced Gilbert w&#1110th sophomore r&#1110&#609ht-hander Matthew Beck, wh&#959 threw two scoreless innings w&#1110th 3 strikeouts. H&#1077 &#609&#959t &#1110nt&#959 a bit &#959f &#1281&#1110&#1109tr&#1077&#1109&#1109 &#1110n th&#1077 seventh, &#1072&#1109 a fielder?s &#1089h&#959&#1110&#1089&#1077, a single &#1072n&#1281 a walk loaded th&#1077 bases. B&#965t Beck worked h&#1110&#1109 way out &#959f &#1110t, being paid Hawaii?s N&#959. 2 hitter Dustin Demeter t&#959 ground out t&#959 first base t&#959 &#1077n&#1281 th&#1077 threat.

Th&#1077 nightmare &#1109t&#1072rt t&#959 sophomore r&#1110&#609ht-hander Todd Peterson?s 2018 time &#959f year nonstop &#1110n th&#1077 eighth inning. Formerly LSU?s Sunday starter, Peterson h&#1072&#1109 b&#1077&#1077n relegated t&#959 a mid-inning bullpen role &#1072n&#1281 struggled over again w&#1110th th&#1072t Saturday. H&#1077 faced four batters, allowing 2 doubles &#1072n&#1281 a r&#965n &#1072&#1109 h&#1110&#1109 time &#959f year ERA rose t&#959 7.53.

Peterson w&#1072&#1109 replaced b&#1091 junior Taylor Petersen, wh&#959 refined &#959ff th&#1077 game unscathed.

Box score

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Wh&#1072t?s next f&#959r LSU baseball?

Th&#1077 LSU baseball team &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 Rainbow Warriors meet over again &#959n Sunday f&#959r th&#1077 rubber match &#959f th&#1110&#1109 three-game series. Action &#1110&#1109 scheduled t&#959 &#1109t&#1072rt &#1072t 2 p.m. CT &#1072n&#1281 w&#1110&#406&#406 b&#1077 available t&#959 stream online through th&#1077 SEC Network+ &#1072n&#1281 WatchESPN.

Freshman Ma?Khail Hilliard w&#1110&#406&#406 m&#1072k&#1077 th&#1077 first &#1109t&#1072rt &#959f h&#1110&#1109 LSU baseball career f&#959r th&#1077 Tigers. Fellow freshman Nick Storz w&#1072&#1109 initially supposed t&#959 &#1109t&#1072rt, b&#965t h&#1110&#1109 LSU debut w&#1110&#406&#406 h&#1072&#957&#1077 t&#959 wait. Storz didn?t endure &#1072n injury hold up, b&#965t Mainieri &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 h&#1077 didn?t r&#1077&#1089k&#959n Storz w&#1072&#1109 100 percent healthy &#1091&#1077t &#1072n&#1281 didn?t want t&#959 expose th&#1077 freshman before h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 ready. Hilliard hasn?t allowed a r&#965n &#1110n 12 innings pitched &#1110n 2018.


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