Aaron Nola threw a four-hit shutout to lead LSU to a 2-0 victory against Alabama in the first game of a split doubleheader Saturday afternoon at The Box.
HOW THEY SCORED
LSU second inning - With one out, Jake Fraley doubled. After Conner Hale fouled out to the catcher, Fraley scored on a single by Tyler Moore. LSU 1, ALABAMA 0
LSU fourth inning - With one out, Fraley walked. After Hale grounded out to the third baseman, Moore walked. Fraley scored on a double by Danny Zardon. LSU 2, ALABAMA 0
LSU WASTED SCORING OPPORTUNITIES
Fifth inning - Christian Ibarra was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Stevenson. Ibarra went to third on a single by Mark Laird, who took second on the throw to the plate. Alex Bregman struck out. After Sean McMullen was hit by a pitch, Fraley popped out to the second baseman.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Fraley was the catalyst in the two innings in which LSU scored. With one out in the second, Fraley hit a ground ball up the middle. The ball hit the second base bag and bounced into shallow right field. Fraley hustled the hit into a double. He scored on a pop fly single by Moore. Two innings later, Fraley drew a one-out walk. He came around to score on a two-out double by Zardon.
In what was his final regular-season appearance at The Box, Nola threw his first shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. Nola permitted just four base runners - all on singles. He struck out nine batters. In only the eighth inning did Alabama get a runner past first base. Austen Smith opened the inning with a single and advanced to second on a one-out single by pinch-hitter William Elliott. Nola then got Daniel Cucjen to line out to the second baseman Hale, who threw to the shortstop Bregman to double off Smith. Nola retired the first 15 batters - five by strikeouts. He gave up singles to Casey Hughston in the sixth and Ben Moore in the seventh. Nola now has 322 career strikeouts which puts him No. 4 on LSU's all-time list. On Saturday he passed Russell Springer, Mark Guthrie, Stan Loewer and Paul Byrd. Nola trails Mike Sirotka by three strikeouts. The victory was the eighth of the season and the 27th of Nola's career.
The LSU relievers go the afternoon off. The only time there was action in the Tigers bullpen came in the ninth inning when Joe Broussard got loose. Nola retired Alabama in order in the ninth inning.
The freshman Zardon made his eighth start of the season, but just his second in a SEC game. Zardon made his first start at first base. Hale was the second baseman and Moore was the catcher as is the case when Nola pitches. Fraley was the leftfielder and Sean McMullen was the designated hitter. . .Laird matched his season-high with three hits. Laird has five three-hit games this season. . .Two of LSU's six hits came from freshmen - Fraley and Zardon. . .Five starters - Stevenson, Bregman, McMullen, Hale and Ibarra were hitless. Hale had his five-game hitting streak end. . .LSU stranded six runners, three in scoring position. The Tigers were 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position. . .Alabama starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull threw a complete game. He gave up two runs and six hits with two walks and two strikeouts. . .Nola's shutout was the first for a LSU pitcher since he blanked Oklahoma in the super-regional series last June. . .Nola struck out every Crimson Tide starter except for Moore and Wade Wass. . .LSU is 36-1-31 overall, 14-10-1 in the SEC. Alabama is 31-19 overall, 13-12 in the SEC. . .The paid attendance was 11,163. The actual crowd was 6,366.
FROM THE CLUBHOUSE
"I feel like I do a disservice in describing how Aaron Nola pitched. He was so fantastic in every way. It has been an absolute privilege to coach him. He had a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning. He made every pitch just the way he wanted to make it in the ninth. I don't understand how any general manager could pass him (in the June draft). Aaron was our leader today. He pitched phenomenally. I was worried about him pitching in the heat of the day. Fortunately, he got ahead in most counts. His pitch count was not high in the middle innings."
"It felt great to pitch in hot weather. I thought I was going to go the whole season not sweating. This was my last regular-season start (at The Box), so why not go all out. Coach (Mainieri) asked me in the eighth inning if I could finish it. I told him I was going to finish it. It was big getting the first hitter out. I didn't do that last week (against Texas A&M) and I couldn't finish. It means a lot to pass up all those guys (on the strikeout list). Those guys were great pitchers at LSU and pitched in the major leagues for a long time. But, strikeouts come second to me. I want to get quick outs so I can get deep in the game."
LSU will play host to Alabama in the second half of Saturday's day-night doubleheader at The Box at 7 p.m. Alden Cartwright (1-0) will be the starting pitcher for the Tigers. Jared Poche will start Sunday's game against the Tide.