LSU baseball rides Nate Ackenhausen to victory vs. Tennessee at 2023 College World Series

OMAHA, Neb. — Nate Ackenhausen’s had a productive first season for LSU baseball.

The Eastern Oklahoma State Community College transfer had a 3.63 ERA entering the 2023 College World Series and had quietly become one of LSU’s most consistent relievers this season.

But entering Tuesday’s CWS elimination game against Tennessee (44-22), he had yet to start a game this season, making it a surprise when Ackenhausen’s name was listed as LSU’s starting pitcher.

Coach Jay Johnson called and Ackenhausen responded by allowing no runs and four hits in six innings pitched, all despite eclipsing his season-high in pitches by 26.

He did more than what any LSU fan could have realistically expected him to do and was the driving force behind the Tigers’ 5-0 season-saving win over Tennessee in Omaha.

After ending Tennessee’s season, LSU (50-16) will move on to face Wake Forest in the first of potentially two games on Wednesday (6 p.m., ESPN).

LSU baseball: A nervy seventh inning

Ackenhausen’s night came to an end in the seventh after hitting Tennessee first baseman Blake Burke with a pitch. He was replaced by Riley Cooper, who forced a fielder’s choice and recorded a strikeout for the first two outs of the inning.

It appeared as if LSU was about to escape the inning unscathed. But not so fast.

Cooper walked the next batter and then Maui Ahuna reached on an error from Jordan Thompson to load the bases. This was a turning point in the game, with LSU clinging onto a 2-0 lead.

Despite Thompson’s mistake, Cooper escaped the jam by forcing center fielder Hunter Ensley to groundout to first base. LSU held onto its lead and then extended it to three in the eighth inning after a wild pitch scored Tre Morgan from third base.

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LSU Tigers baseball: Offense continues to struggle

For LSU to win three games in three days, it needed its offense to perform up to its typical standard. Monday’s five-hit, two-run performance against Wake Forest wouldn’t cut it moving forward.

But on Tuesday, the Tigers’ offense struggled out of the gates again with only six hits and two runs in the first six innings of the game. They were consistently fooled by Tennessee starter Drew Beam, who finished his outing with nine strikeouts in 5⅔ innings pitched.

LSU churned out four runs in the final four innings, including a two-run home run in the ninth from Dylan Crews. But with potentially two games coming up in as many days, the Tigers will need to do more at the plate to support their pitching staff.

Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: LSU baseball beats Tennessee in College World Series elimination game