LSU brings bats to Urban Invitational rematch
MLB Network has live coverage of tourney's seventh edition on Sunday
METAIRIE, La. -- After his team struggled with offensive consistency in its season-opening victory against the University of New Orleans, LSU sophomore shortstop Alex Bregman promised change.
He attributed LSU's sporadic seven-hit display on Friday to customary opening-night jitters and said there would be a more concentrated approach when the Tigers hit the road for a rematch with the Privateers.
Bregman's claims were validated Saturday, as LSU cranked out 13 hits and held off a furious UNO rally to claim a 7-4 victory at Zephyr Field in the MLB Urban Invitational.
"It was a more-aggressive approach to the top half of the baseball," Bregman said. "We knew we had no shot of hitting the ball out of the yard. We had a lot of success hitting the ball on a line and on the ground. We need to stick to that for the rest of the year."
The third day of the tournament will feature a pair of games at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, and both will be televised live on MLB Network. Southern will face off against UNO at noon CT on Sunday, and Grambling State and LSU will play the final game of the tournament at 4. Southern defeated Grambling by a 7-5 score for the second consecutive day on Saturday afternoon.
Every LSU starter except left fielder Mark Laird collected a hit, while Bregman and senior designated hitter Sean McMullen led the team with three knocks apiece.
McMullen's outburst came a night after he went hitless in the leadoff spot, prompting a change in his approach to Privateer pitching.
"[UNO] was struggling with control," McMullen said. "I just wanted to pick a pitch and not get myself out. I think that's what I did last night -- just got myself out a lot."
Junior southpaw Kyle Bouman made his first career LSU start and rebounded after a shaky first inning to retire the final 13 batters he faced.
Three consecutive two-out singles in the first were the only trouble for Bouman, who surrendered his only run on an RBI single to Privateer shortstop Samuel Capielano for an early 1-0 deficit.
The Tigers (2-0) were quick to answer, as freshman second baseman Connor Hale and McMullen delivered consecutive two-out RBI singles to give Bouman a 3-1 cushion.
"I really stressed keeping my fastball down by the knees," Bouman said. "I focused on my downward tilt. I knew my offense would put up some runs, so I didn't panic too much [after the first inning]."
LSU tacked on another run in the third on an RBI single from sophomore center fielder Andrew Stevenson, then two more in the fourth on a Bregman RBI single and a passed ball to tally a 6-1 advantage after four.
From there, the LSU offense would score only once before the Tigers went to their bullpen, which let the Privateers back in the game.
Junior LSU reliever Brady Domangue couldn't find the strike zone in the sixth, walking the bases loaded with one out before surrendering a sacrifice fly to make it 7-2.
Freshman Henri Faucheux entered, only to walk another batter before giving up a full-count single to UNO pinch-hitter Jonathan Santana, closing the gap to three.
Faucheux settled to induce a popout to end the sixth before striking out the side in the seventh. Fellow freshmen Alden Cartwright and Parker Bugg worked the final two scoreless frames to seal the victory.
LSU coach Paul Maineiri lauded the three youngsters who closed the game, calling their experience on the road in pressure situations a maturing point -- especially for Bugg, who worked with the bases loaded and the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
"He was letting it rip, that's why I put him out there for the ninth inning," Mainieri said. "I thought he'd go out and throw strikes and go after the inning. He was successful, as long as he got the outs before the tying run scored."
"It was a strange game," Mainieri added. "I thought our guys lost some of their intensity, but there were some good at-bats ... We need to get better."
Chandler Rome is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.