Aaron Nola and two relievers combined for a four-hit shutout as LSU defeated UNO 2-0 in the season-opener for both teams at The Box on Friday night.
HOW THEY SCORED
LSU third inning - Conner Hale singled and moved to third on a hit-and-run double by Mark Laird after Sean McMullen struck out. Hale scored on a single by Alex Bregman. LSU 1, UNO 0
LSU sixth inning - Christian Ibarra doubled and moved to third on a bunt single by Tyler Moore. Ibarra scored on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Kade Scivicque. LSU 2, UNO 0
LSU WASTED SCORING OPPORTUNITIES
Fifth inning - With one out, Laird reached on an error by second baseman Zach Liberto. Laird advanced to second on a balk by Raymond Winter. An infield single by Bregman moved Laird to third. Jared Foster fouled out to first baseman Cameron Hoffman and Chris Chinea flied out to centerfielder Chaz Boyer.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Bregman reached base three times in his four at-bats. After drawing a two-out walk in the first, Bregman singled home Hale for the Tigers' first run in the third. He picked up an infield hit on a sharply hit ball off the glove of third baseman Jonathan Coco in the fifth. In his last at-bat, Bregman flied out to rightfielder Dane Landry with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth.
Nola threw six scoreless innings in his 2014 debut. He allowed four hits - all coming in the fourth through six innings. Nola didn't walk a batter, but he hit three. Nola 11 hit batters in 2013. He finished with six strikeouts. UNO put a runner in scoring position in four of Nola's six innings. In the first, Landry was hit by a pitch and moved to second on Mitchell Alexander's ground out to Moore at first base. Nola got Reese Kanter to fly out to McMullen in centerfield and struck out Hoffman. Nola gave up a one-out double to Kanter in the fourth. He got Hoffman on a grounder to Bregman at shortstop and Liberto on a fly ball to Laird in leftfield. With one out in the fifth, Nola hit Samuel Capielano and allowed a single by Brian Dixon. He struck out Boyer and retired Landry on a fly ball to Foster in rightfield. Nola yielded two-out singles by Hoffman and Liberto in the sixth. He got Coco on a pop up to Ibarra at third base to end the inning. UNO was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position against Nola.
Making his first appearance since the 2012 season, Joe Broussard threw two scoreless innings. He walked Capielano, the first batter he faced, on four pitches. Broussard then retired six consecutive hitters - two by strikeout. In Broussard's first inning, the Privateers got a runner to second with one out. Broussard retired Boyer on a fly ball to Laird and struck out Landry. McCune recorded his second career save with a perfect ninth in which he struck out two batters.
Junior college transfers Scivicque and Hale were the only two LSU players to make their first career starts. Scivicque was the designated hitter, while Hale was the second baseman. Scivicque was 0-for-2 with a sacrifice fly. Hale was 2-for-4 and scored the Tigers' first run. . .Scivicque made a base-running error in the fourth. He made the last out at third base trying to advance from first base on a single by Hale. . .Foster and Chinea, who batted behind Bregman in the lineup, both went 0-for-4. Seven of their eight outs were on balls hit in the air. . .McMullen had a rough night as he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Winter, his high school teammate at Brother Martin. . .LSU has won 13 straight season-openers with its last defeat coming against Kansas State in 2001. The Tigers also opened last season with a shutout victory - 1-0 against Maryland. . .LSU was 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position, but only one of the hits drove in a run. The Tigers stranded ten runners - four in scoring position. LSU got no hits in three innings against UNO relievers Darron McKigney and Seth Laigast. Privateers starter Raymond Winter gave up two runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. . .Will Davis coached third and Alex Edward, a student assistant, coached first for the Tigers. . .All of LSU's games this weekend are part of the Urban Baseball Classic. Southern's games with Grambling and UNO this weekend are also part of the event, which has been held in Houston the past few years. . .Three seniors from LSU's 2013 team threw out first pitches - Chris Cotton, Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes. . .Elizabeth Cameron, the 12-year old daughter of Tigers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, sang the National Anthem. . .The paid attendance was 12,472. The actual crowd was 9,229. The paid attendance was the second largest in Alex Box Stadium history. The paid crowd for a game against South Carolina last April 27 was 12,727.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
"I can't be displeased. We got the win. I know we can play better offensively. It was not a terribly great performance offensively. We executed one good hit-and-run (Laird) and we had a beautiful sacrifice bunt (Moore). We didn't finish off that one inning when Laird had the double. I thought we were going to get three runs, but we only got one."
"Joe Broussard was outstanding after the first batter. When you have a year like last year for Joe and have to come back from Tommy John surgery, it warms your heart. Joe was outstanding after the first batter. When he was down in the zone, his ball was electric. His ball was exploding when he was throwing downhill. Joe has the second best stuff on the team and he showed it. I thought Kurt McCune did a good job as well. He made a couple of real good pitchers and he had a good splitter. I was trying to win the game, so I went with the veterans (relief pitchers)."
"It was opening day and guys are going to have butterflies and jitters. When you play in front of a crowd like this for the first time, you are going to be nervous. I know a lot of our guys were nervous playing here for the first time. It's going to be important for me this year to drive in runs. Coach (Mainieri) always preaches about two-out hitting, clutch hitting. That's what I needed to do. I should have driven in more runs late in the game."
"I didn't really throw as I expected. My arm felt great, but my secondary stuff was so-so. I have to work more on the inside part of the plate. It was good to get my first start and first win out of the way. Both Joe and Kurt did great. Broussard was phenomenal after having Tommy John surgery and not pitching for 19 months. He is going to progress more. McCune is going to get more comfortable in his role."
"It was great to be out there pain-free. It was pretty big to do the job as a closer. I'll get more familiar with the situation and it helps when you are successful. Coach (Mainieri) mentioned to me during BP to be ready that I might be the closer. I was trying not to look at the scoreboard (pitch speed). I thought I was throwing hard and my splitter was good."
LSU will play UNO at Zephyr Field at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Kyle Bouman will be the starting pitcher for the Tigers. The LSU-UNO game will be broadcast on CST.