"This is the moment I want to hit in" ... LSU's Daniel Cabrera on walk-off HR to beat Vols

Glenn Guilbeau
The Daily Advertiser
FILE - In this June 1, 2017 file photo, LSU head coach Paul Mainieri reacts to the crowd after defeating UNC Wilmington at the Baton Rouge Regional of the NCAA college baseball tournament in Baton Rouge, La. LSU is now two victories from the program’s 18th trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Starting Saturday, June 10, the Tigers host Mississippi State in a best-of-three NCAA super regional. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

BATON ROUGE - Daniel Cabrera watched the last walk-off home run by an LSU player at Alex Box Stadium on TV when he was 16.

And on a Sunday afternoon almost three years later, he was basically in the TV doing the same thing.

Cabrera, a freshman from Parkview Baptist High in Baton Rouge, grew up dreaming of hitting dramatic home runs in Alex Box Stadium. And he lived it by launching a three-run memory maker to right field with one out in the bottom of the ninth to complete a six-run rally and give the Tigers a breathtaking, 9-7 win over Tennessee for their first three-game sweep in the Southeastern Conference this season.

"It's awesome," the wide-eyed 19-year-old kept saying as he walked around the field in  a daze with fresh, celebratory shaving cream on his face from a teammate.

"It's just awesome," he said. "I was ready. I was ready. This is why I came here. This is the moment I want to hit in. I wasn't nervous. I was excited. I was like, 'I want to be in this situation.'" 

Cabrera and his teammates watched the SEC Network replay of the home run on somebody's phone in the dugout as he attempted a shaving cream wipe-off.

"Doesn't taste very good. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody," he said. "I'm not sure who got me. He just hit me really hard in the face."

It was the first LSU walk-off home run since Chris Sciambra's solo shot in the ninth beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 4-3, on June 6, 2015, in the first game of a NCAA Super Regional.

"I was watching that one on TV," Cabrera said. "I want to hit in these type situations. I want to be remembered as one of the best hitters at LSU."

He is already known as the LSU baseball player whose walk-off homer won just the second game for the Tigers at Alex Box since 1972 in which they trailed by four entering the ninth inning. The only other one was, 10-9, over Arkansas in 10 innings on May 7, 2016. The Razorbacks led that one 9-5 going into the bottom of the ninth in the game that became famously dedicated to the rally possum as one got loose in the outfield with LSU batting in the seventh. The Tigers went on to win nine straight games after that and eventually earn a top eight national seed.

No. 19 LSU (24-13, 9-6 SEC) was trailing this one 7-3 entering the bottom of the ninth inning and had played pretty poorly overall with three errors and two unearned runs allowed.

Pinch-hitter Chris Reid started the ninth inning rally by reaching on a fielding error by shortstop Andre Lipcius. Beau Jordan followed with a single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Zach Watson's fielder's choice grounder scored Reid, and Zach Linginfelter replaced Tennessee starter Will Neely. Linginfelter hit Antoine Duplantis to load the bases. 

Then Austin Bain doubled to right field to drive in Jordan and Watson, get the Tigers within, 7-6, move Duplantis to third and chase Linginfelter. After reliever Andrew Schultz struck out Hunter Feduccia for the first out, Schultz threw a one-ball, no-strike fastball down and in to Cabrera, and he destroyed it. It sailed over the Subway sign in right field for his fourth home run of the season and biggest one of his life so far.

Then he just stood there and watched it as if he was in his living room again.

"He deserved to stay there and just watch it," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.

"I saw it go out," said Bain, who was on second base. "Then I saw him, and he really wasn't moving. It was awesome. If you hit a walk-off home run, I don't care how long you sit there."

Cabrera does not remember much after the swing.

"Right when I hit, I just kind of wanted to soak in the moment because I knew it was going over," he said. "It was one of those balls that you hit and you don't even feel it off the bat. You just know you got all of it."

Then he said he kind of blacked out.

"It was awesome. I didn't know what was going on," he said. "I don't really remember going around the bases."

And the next thing he knew, he was eating shave cream.      

"Sour," he said. "It tastes like soap."

The Tigers' clean sweep began with a 9-3 win Friday night after a 6-0 lead through two innings and continued Saturday night in a 14-5 victory after a 6-0 advantage through two. LSU trailed for the first time Sunday by 1-0 in the second and by 4-0 after three before cutting it to 4-3 in the fourth and fifth. Then the Volunteers (21-17, 5-10 SEC) extended their lead to 5-3 in the seventh and to 7-3 in the eighth as LSU used seven pitchers in all.

Taylor Peterson, who recorded one out on one pitch in the top of the ninth, got the win to improve to 1-0. Linginfelter (2-4) took the loss in relief of starter Will Neely, who allowed only three earned runs on nine hits in eight innings with one walk and six strikeouts.

"So, we didn't have an overall good game, but we found a way to win," Mainieri said.

Tennessee took a 1-0 lead in the second inning off starter Devin Fontenot on a Nico Mascia double and RBI single by Pete Derkay. Then Mascia launched a two-out, three-run home run off A.J. Labas in the third inning for a 4-0 lead as Mainieri went into the game with a plan to use five pitchers or more.

The Tigers cut it to 4-1 in the fourth inning as Bain doubled to lead off and later scored on a passed ball. LSU cut it to 4-3 in the fifth after two outs when Watson was hit by a pitch from Neely, who then allowed a RBI double to Duplantis and a RBI single to Bain, who finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Neely settled down and struck out Feduccia looking to end the inning.

It was the 1,400th career win for Mainieri, and one that he will remember for a long time.

"If you lose after you won the first two games of a series, you feel terrible," Mainieri said. "You just leave with a very empty feeling, knowing you could have had a sweep. And I was starting to feel that way. I have to admit it. You just feel snake bit."

Then, soon ... euphoria.

"I don't really have the words to describe what we just witnessed," Mainieri said. "I'm going to have to go back and watch it."

So will Cabrera.