Following their 3-2 deflating loss to Wake Forest in the College World Series on Monday, the LSU Tigers found themselves in a predicament.  

Who would start on Tuesday in an elimination game against Tennessee?

The reason they found themselves in that situation was because Tigers Head Coach Jay Johnson went all in Monday night against the Demon Deacons.  Ahead 2-0 in the 6th, Johnson brought in Thatcher Hurd in relief of starting pitcher Ty Floyd.

Normally Hurd would be the next game’s starter, but obviously, Johnson wanted to avoid the elimination game at all costs.

So the question remained who would start for LSU against Tennessee?

Photo courtesy LSU Baseball
Photo courtesy LSU Baseball

Tigers lefty Nate Ackenhausen to the rescue.

Ackenhausen hadn’t made a start all season for LSU.  During the mid-week or otherwise.

And good luck finding the last team he started against.  It was May 20, 2022 against Crowder College which is located in Neosho, MO.  Don’t worry, I don’t know either, but I looked that up as well. It's the southwest corner of Missouri, between Joplin, MO and Bentonville, AR.

With all due respect to the fighting Crowder Roughriders, that’s not exactly the same as facing the Tennessee Volunteers, needing a win to stay alive in the College World Series

Once Leah Vann tweeted out that Ackenhausen was starting, I was hoping for one time around the lineup.  Can Ackenhausen get nine outs and keep the Tigers bats in the game?

In the end, he did much more than that.

Ackenhausen pitched into the 7th, scattering 4 hits and striking out 7.  He did not walk a batter but did plunk 3 Vols hitters.

Even though he was rolling after 3 shutout innings, I’m begging Johnson to go get him and bring in a reliever, but it just appeared Ackenhausen got stronger as the game went on.

He retired the side in order in the 4th, but when he got in trouble in the 5th, I couldn't believe Johnson left him in the game, again.  But Ackenhausen got out of the 2-out jam in the 5th and retired the side in order in the 6th for good measure.

Mind you, the most he’s pitched this season for the Tigers this season was 3.2 innings and 67 pitches against South Carolina in the SEC Tournament. Now he’s up to 90 pitches in 6 innings.

And yet Johnson brought him back out for the 7th.  He plucked his third hitter of the game and that was all for Ackenhausen.  Riley Cooper had his back and finished off the shutout.

The Tigers’ offense was supplied by Cade Beloso’s 3 hits, Tre Morgan had 2 hits and scored twice and Dylan Crews put the game away with the 2-run HR in the 9th.  LSU beat Tennessee 5-0 and faces the same pitching dilemma against Wake Forest on Wednesday.  

But Tuesday night’s game belonged to Nate Ackenhausen.  Officially, an LSU Legend.

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