{{ timeAgo('2023-03-14 21:28:18 -0500') }} baseball Edit

16 runs on 12 hits equals 11th straight win for No. 1 LSU

LSU third baseman Tommy White hops as he watches his three-run home run land in the left field stands for the Tigers' first runs in an eventual 16-0 win over UNO Tuesday night in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU third baseman Tommy White hops as he watches his three-run home run land in the left field stands for the Tigers' first runs in an eventual 16-0 win over UNO Tuesday night in Alex Box Stadium. (Photo courtesy of LSU Athletics)

No. 1 LSU’s Tuesday’s non-conference game against UNO was the Tigers’ last chance to get in extended work for their pitching staff before opening SEC play Friday at Texas A&M.

It’s something LSU hasn’t been able to do lately since six of its last seven games ended in the seventh inning due to the 10-run rule as LSU bats roared.

If head coaches Jay Johnson of LSU and Blake Dean of UNO hadn’t agreed not to use the 10-run rule, LSU’s 16-0 victory would have been cut short also on a chilly night in Alex Box Stadium.

It was LSU's 11th straight win, its longest win streak since the 2017 Tigers won 17th consecutive games. Also, LSU's 16-1 record to start the season matches the start of the 2015 team.

The Tigers’ seven-run sixth inning, capped by second baseman Gavin Dugas’ two-run homer, gave LSU a 10-0 lead.

But because Johnson and Dean to forgo the 10-rule, LSU was able to use five pitchers after the Tigers used just six hurlers in this past weekend’s series sweep of Butler that featured three straight run-rule wins.

Tigers’ freshman starting pitcher Chase Shores and relievers Garrett Edwards, Riley Cooper, Blake Money and Christian Little combined for a three-hitter while striking out 10 and walking three.

"In something like eight of the last 10 games we've given up two runs or less," Johnson said. "You're going to win when you do that and they're doing a great job. Just need to keep executing."

Shores lasted just 2.1 innings, gave up two hits and no run while striking out two and walking one. He got into a third-inning jam when he walked designated hitter Noah Bailey and gave up a double to center fielder Issac Williams.

After Shores whiffed UNO shortstop Kasten Furr, he was yanked in favor of LSU reliever Garrett Edwards. The junior righty from Pitkin, La. got out of the inning unscathed, striking out four of the first five batters he faced including fanning the side in UNO’s fourth.

Edwards (2-0) got the credit for the win, striking out five and walking none in 3.2 innings.

"Garrett came into the game in the third inning with a couple of runners in scoring position and just went out, got out of that jam and then was brilliant the rest of the way," Johnson said. "He's gotten us out of trouble like four times in a row. He's kind of our fireman get us out of jail."

UNO starting pitcher Colton Mercer struck out five and walked two in 4.2 innings. He exited with two outs in the fifth and two LSU runners on base after Tigers’ center fielder Dylan Crews singled.

UNO reliever Trey Usey was greeted by White, who banged Usey’s 1-0 pitch into the left field stands for a three-run homer and the game’s first lead.

"He's just a really good hitter, there's not much lacking," Johnson said iof White. "The approach is good. The strikes on discipline is good. The timing is good, the balance of strength, that bat speed. He can handle all sides of the plate, all pitches. He's really swinging the bat really well right now as we anticipated."

LSU expanded its lead to 10-0 in the fifth. Usey was immediately yanked after his two-run, no outs throwing error on a sacrifice bunt by Tigers’ catcher Alex Milazzo.

UNO reliever Nolan Daniel immediately committed a throwing error on a second straight sacrifice bunt by left fielder Paxton Kling as Milazzo scored. First baseman Tre’ Morgan sacrifice fly scored Kling, a White RBI single scored Crews who had doubled and Dugas punctuated the proceedings with his two-run homer.

Crews, White, Dugas and pinch-hitter/first baseman Hayden Travinski had two hits each. White had four RBI and Dugas, Travinski and pinch-hitter/designated hitter Josh Pearson had two RBI each.

While LSU has outscored opponents 142-14 during its current win streak and the Tigers lead the nation in shutouts (six) and fielding percentage, the SEC schedule is daunting.

LSU's first two league opponents -- Texas A&M this weekend in College Station and Arkansas March 24-25-26 in Baton Rouge -- were 2-2 and 3-2 respectively in last season's College World Series. The Hogs came up one game short of advancing to the finals. A&M won two of three over LSU in Baton Rouge last season and Arkansas swept the Tigers in Fayetteville.

A&M (13-4) is ranked No. 15 by D1 Baseball, No. 11 by Baseball America and No. 15 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and the USA Today Coaches poll. Arkansas (15-2), which hosts Auburn in its opening SEC series, is ranked No. 7 by D1 Baseball, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches poll.

"It's a great challenge starting this weekend in College Station," Johnson said. "It's exciting and they have a great team and a lot of returning players that were on that Omaha team. So, we're familiar with them and should be great battle."