BATON ROUGE — Zack "Wild Thing" Hess was just that, and LSU could not recover as it lost to Notre Dame, 10-5, after spotting it an 8-1 lead after three innings in front of about 8,000 at Alex Box Stadium Saturday night.
Hess (0-1) lasted just two and one-third innings as Notre Dame battered him for eight earned runs on five hits with six walks, leaving him with an opening game earned run average of 30.9.
"I was elevating too many pitches in the zone," Hess said. "And they made me work. I've got to do a better job locating my fastball. But I'm going to learn from it so I don't make the same mistakes."
For the second straight night, LSU (1-1) spotted Notre Dame (1-1) a large lead in the early innings, but this time, it could not catch up. The Irish led 6-0 after five innings Friday before losing 7-6 in the season opener.
"That's two nights in a row," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said, "that we dug ourselves in a hole. It looked like we were going to get out of it, but we didn't."
The Irish bullied Hess, a spectacular closer at the end of last season, as they scored seven in the third inning for the 8-1 lead on six hits and three walks. Hess allowed a single to Jake Johnson to start the inning, then walked Nick Podkul and Matt Vierling before allowing a two run-single to Niko Kavadas for a 3-1 deficit. A passed ball against catcher Nick Coomes made it 4-1. Then Eric Gilgenbach stroked a two-run homer to left field, and it was 6-1. Daniel Jung followed with a double, and Hess walked David LaManna before his night ended.
"He was getting behind in the count too much," Mainieri said. "He's got to keep working on it."
LSU stormed back, though, with three runs in the fourth inning to get within 8-4 on an RBI single by Nick Coomes and a two-out, two-run single by Brandt Broussard. The Tigers cut it to 8-5 in the sixth when Broussard hit a sacrfiice fly on a foul out to the right of right field. But LSU could get no closer, and Notre Dame added two in the top of the ninth.
The Tigers' top two pitchers — Caleb Gilbert, who started Friday, and Hess — have allowed 13 earned runs on 14 hits in six and two-thirds innings.
"That's not the way I'd have hoped to start the season," Mainieri said. "But we've got a long way to go."
The two teams will close the three-game series at 11 a.m. Sunday with sophomore right-hander Todd Peterson, 3-1 last year with a 4.19 ERA, pitching for LSU against right-hander Cameron Junker (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
The Tigers tied it 1-1 in the second on a solo home run by Beau Jordan, whose twin brother Bryce Jordan hit a grand slam Friday night to get the Tigers within 6-4 before Josh Smith's three-run homer in the eighth won it.
Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead on an RBI groundout by Kavadas in the first after Hess walked the bases loaded around a strikeout.
LSU put runners on the corners in the bottom of the ninth, but Zach Watson struck out to end the game.
"This is just one game," Hess said.