If the scoreline wasn't evidence enough, expect runs to come at a premium no matter which of these squads LSU faces on Saturday.
Pitching was on display during Friday's regional opener between Oregon State (39-18) and Belmont (39-23). The Beavers eked out a 2-1 victory against the Bruins despite managing a paltry three hits all afternoon. The Bruins didn't fare much better with just six hits of their own, but they could muster only one run to compete with Oregon State's pair.
Those runs weren't easily earned, either. The Beavers opened the scoring in the second frame when Ryan Barnes doubled to open the inning and moved to third on a fielder's choice. Kavin Keyes brought Barnes home on a sacrifice fly with one out.
The Bruins responded to tie the score in the fifth inning when Dylan Craig hit a leadoff triple before scoring on a fielder's choice -- but that would be the only run Belmont could muster -- although there were opportunities. The Oregon State pitching staff was clutch when it needed to be, as the Beavers wound up stranding nine Belmont runners. The most glaring gaffe was a two-out rally in the fourth inning, when the Bruins loaded the bases with two men gone but couldn't push a run across.
The pitching performances will give LSU's righty-laden lineup something to think about. The Beavers used two lefties to devastating effect. Starter Jace Fry went five innings and allowed four hits and one run, and reliever Matt Boyd went 2.1 innings and allowed just one hit to pick up his third save. Right-handed reliever Tony Bryant (6-2) picked up the win while working in between Fry and Boyd.
Impressive as the Oregon State bullpen looked (just two hits allowed over four innings of work), LSU will be happy it dodged a potential matchup with Belmont starter Chase Brookshire (8-4). Brookshire was the definition of a tough luck loser Friday. He went seven innings against the Beavers and allowed just three hits and two earned runs. But he picked up the loss when the Beaver bullpen shut down the comeback attempt.
If the regional opener is any indication, LSU is in for quite a struggle at the plate on Saturday -- regardless of whom the Tigers face.