LSU walks off Wofford in Chapel Hill Regional

Published 4:06 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — LSU’s Monster delivered another Godzilla-sized moment in the postseason.

Steven Milam, nicknamed “Monster,” hit his second walk-off home run in three games to give the Tigers a 4-3 victory over Wofford in the opening game of the NCAA baseball tournament’s Chapel Hill Regional on Friday.

Milam hit two of LSU’s four solo home runs, all of which came from the seventh inning on. He’s hit eight home runs this season, with four of those coming in the last seven games.

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“I was just trying to get on base and pass the sticks, and have somebody else win the game. I wasn’t trying to win the game with one swing,” Milam said. “I got my timing down and got a pitch I could drive, and it ended up leaving.”

LSU (41-21) won for the eighth time in nine games as it began the defense of its national championship. It’ll face regional host North Carolina in the winners’ bracket Saturday at 4 p.m. North Carolina beat Long Island 11-8 on Friday night.

Wofford (41-19) will play Long Island in an elimination game at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“We got cut, we got blistered, we got bloodied, we got punched in the gut it felt like 50 times in the first five weeks of SEC play, but we got out of the hospital and this is who we are now,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said.

Wofford scored twice in the second inning, on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Hare and an RBI single by Andrew Mannelly, and pitcher Branton Little shackled LSU for most of the game.

Little pitched five shutout innings, allowing two hits and three walks.

LSU finally got rolling in the seventh inning against reliever Kenny Michaels, when Milam banged a home run off the scoreboard in left center field to cut it to 2-1.

Wofford got another run in the eighth on a solo home run by Jack Renwick that ended a solid outing for LSU starter Gage Jump. Jump retired 10 of the next 11 batters after giving up the two runs in the second inning and finished with nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.

“They’re a good offense. The first inning I just blew them up with fastballs and then the next inning I spun some good breakers and they just took them,” Jump said. “They battled and were tough to put away. After that it was mixing and matching, and commanding the fastball helped a lot.”

Having Milam and the Tigers’ hitters backing him up helped, too. Michael Braswell III and Jared Jones homered in a span of three batters in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game at 3, and in the ninth Milam won it.

Milam fouled off four pitches before finally skying the game-winning home run over the right field wall. The switch-hitter hit it from the left side of the plate, after his first homer was from the right side.

“You just have to slow down. Get something you can drive and put a good swing on it,” Milam said. “That’s the simplest thing, and simplicity is good in this game.”