As a true freshman in 2017, LSU pitcher Todd Peterson flashed potential. The right-handed hurler’s 3-1 record and 3.98 ERA heading into the Southeastern Conference Tournament earned him a start in the Tigers’ opener against Missouri. However, a violation of unspecified team rules landed Peterson in the dog house with a tournament-long suspension. He pitched just two innings the rest of the year as LSU finished as runner-up in the College World Series.
Peterson returned in 2018 rejuvenated and focused on seeing the field. The 6-foot-5, 230 pounder blossomed in a closing role for head coach Paul Mainieri’s team, finding himself on the mound to put the finishing touches on LSU’s elimination game versus the South Carolina Gamecocks at the 2018 SEC Tournament.
Peterson, however, surrendered a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extras. Mainieri trusted his sophomore, though. Peterson mopped up the Gamecocks in the 10th and 11th innings when the top of the 12th arrived.
With Peterson rolling, and the DH already having been used, Mainieri decided to keep his pitcher in the game rather than substitute with a pinch hitter. For the first time since he was an eighth grade baseball player, Peterson stepped to the plate.
In the only at-bat of his collegiate career, the sophomore roped a two-run double into left field with no batting gloves and stirrup-style socks, giving LSU a commanding 6-3 lead.
LSU’s Todd Peterson Hits Two RBI Double
Everyone in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, fell in love with the kid. He closed out that baseball game with a solid line — five innings, four hits, no walks and three strikeouts — to pick up the win. His at-bat was the only thing people cared about, though.
Had his performance not been enough, Peterson’s postgame interview sure as hell solidified him as a college baseball legend.
“What was your mindset when you stepped in the batter’s box?” Peterson was asked.
Todd Peterson’s Postgame Interview
“At first [Paul Mainieri] said, ‘Just go up there. Don’t swing the bat. Don’t do anything.’ Then they changed the pitcher and I was like, ‘He’s getting scared out there.’
“[Mainieri’s] like, ‘Did you ever hit in high school?’
“I go, ‘Yeah, I hit bombs.'”
Sitting next to his teammates in the postgame press conference, Peterson revealed to everyone, including his baseball coach, that he’d never actually hit in a game during his prep career at Lake Mary High School in Florida. Head coach Paul Mainieri had no idea.
“I hit [batting practice] a couple times, you know,” Peterson said with a laugh. “I did hit nukes, I’ll tell you that.”
Mainieri burst into laughter after learning about the gamble. Luckily for Peterson, it paid off.
Peterson joined LSU teammate Daniel Cabrera on the SEC All-Tournament Team.
Peterson bookended his LSU baseball career with a 5-2 record and 3.86 ERA in 2019. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2019 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals, bringing a mid-90s fastball, developing curveball, and home run mythology to the pros.
The reliever’s college career was up and down, but he gave LSU a true iconic moment on the baseball diamond that fans who watched him inside Alex Box Stadium at Skip Bertman Field should never forget.
This post was originally published on May 26, 2020 but Todd Peterson never goes out of style.