BATON ROUGE, La.— Freshman Brayden Kuriger had a pinch-hit single in the ninth that plated two runs before shortstop Parker Coddou made a highlight catch with the bases loaded for a game-ending double play as the Nicholls State University baseball team stunned No. 1 LSU with a 6-5 victory on Tuesday night at Alex Box Stadium.
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Nicholls (23-16) led 3-0 through five innings before LSU (32-8) briefly took the lead with four runs in the sixth. After Nicholls tied it in the eighth, the scene was set for a thrilling final frame.
Kuriger's single to right field came with the bases loaded, two outs and a full count as he drove in the go-ahead run and another run scored on the play after an LSU error. In the bottom of the ninth, LSU quickly got the run back as Jared Jones hit a leadoff homer off of Cade Evans. The Tigers then got two singles before Evans picked up his first strikeout. Following a walk that loaded the bases, Cade Beloso blooped the potential game-winner into shallow center but Coddou made a remarkable diving catch and turned an unassisted double play for the victory.
🚨 DOWN GOES NO. 1 🚨@Nicholls_BSB pulls the Tuesday night upset of No. 1 LSU, 6-5.#NCAABaseball x 🎥 SECN+ / @SouthlandSports pic.twitter.com/mLHFygQhyO— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) April 26, 2023
The win for Nicholls was the first against a No. 1 team since 2009 when the Colonels beat LSU in Baton Rouge. The victory also snapped a seven-game drought in Baton Rouge with the last victory coming in 2015.
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Nicholls outhit LSU on the night, 10-7, fueled by another outstanding showing by the reigning Southland Hitter of the Week Xane Washington. The Houma native extended his hitting streak to 15 games after lacing a 2-run single in the fifth that put Nicholls ahead 3-0. Wes Toups and Jaden Collura also finished with two-hit games. Collura gave the Red and Gray a 1-0 lead in the second on a sacrifice fly after singles by Austin Cain and Erick Ordonez.
As clutch as the hitting was for the Colonels, the defense stole the show for the night. Toups and Washington both had highlight catches in the outfield in the first inning, and Garrett Felix saved two runs in the second after ending the inning with a running grab. Then in the fourth, Toups made a leaping catch and hung on after banging into the wall. For the second out, Coddou made another outstanding catch running into shallow left field.
The Colonels were pitching by committee and used five different pitchers to shut out LSU through five innings. But the Tigers used two hits and three free passes to take a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Beloso homered to highlight the inning but Nicholls used another phenomenal defensive play to end the frame. Jaden Collura fired a strike to Coddou on a steal attempt and after calling the runner safe, it was overturned with replay showing Coddou tagged his foot for the out.
Nico Saltaformaggio (3-1) was the star of the pitching staff. He came in to pitch in the sixth with the bases loaded and no outs and the Colonels up 3-2. Although LSU took the lead, he retired both batters on the RBIs on a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly. He then shut out LSU in the seventh and eighth innings.
In the Colonel eighth, Washington and Gerardo Villarreal singled to set up the game-tying run. With runners on the corners and one out, Cain put down a perfect squeeze bunt. Washington beat the throw home but missed the plate and was tagged out going back to the dugout. But the distraction allowed pinch-runner Basiel Williams to race around from first and beat another toss to the plate.
For the final inning, Collura got things started with a one-out single. Coddou followed with a two-out walk and a wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position. LSU elected to walk the red-hot Washington to load the bases. But Kuriger smacked a single off Bryce Collins for the game-winning runs.
Devin Desandro, Tyler Theriot, Chase Gearing and Josh Mancuso each threw 1.0 shutout innings to start the game. Evans picked up his team-high fifth save.