Alex Bregman had a two-run double and Mason Katz hit in a two-run homer during a five-run eighth inning as LSU pulled away for a 9-3 victory against Nicholls State at The Box on Wednesday night.
HOW THEY SCORED
LSU second inning - Raph Rhymes reached on an infield single and went to second on a throwing error by shortstop Leo Vargas. Rhymes advanced to third on a single by Katz. Christian Ibarra's single brought home Rhymes. JaCoby Jones singled to left field and Katz scored when David Zorn's throw to third base was wild. LSU 2, NICHOLLS STATE 0
Nicholls State third inning - Tyler Duplantis doubled and moved to third on Zorn's sacrifice bunt. Duplantis scored on Matt Richard's sacrifice fly to rightfield. LSU 2, NICHOLLS STATE 1
Nicholls State fifth inning - Seth Stevens singled and moved up to second on a bunt single by Duplantis one out later. Zorn's single drove home Stevens. A single by Richard scored Duplantis. NICHOLLS STATE 3, LSU 2
LSU fifth innings - Laird singled and moved to second when second baseman Philip Lyons misplayed Bregman's grounder. Laird went to third on Rhymes' fly out to centerfield and scored on a single by Katz. NICHOLLS STATE 3, LSU 3
LSU seventh inning - Bregman singled and advanced to second on Rhymes' hit-and-run ground out to third base. After Katz struck out, Bregman moved to third on a wild pitch by Kelby Langston. Ibarra singled home Bregman.
LSU eighth inning - A single by Ty Ross and walks to Chris Chinea and Chris Sciambra loaded the bases. After Laird flied out to leftfield, Bregman doubled home Ross and pinch-runner Andrew Stevenson. Sciambra scored on Rhymes' sacrifice fly. Katz hit a two-run homer into the leftfield seats. LSU 9, NICHOLLS STATE 3
LSU WASTED SCORING CHANCES
First inning - Sciambra walked and Laird singled. Bregman lined out to the second baseman Lyons, who started a triple play. Lyons stepped on second to retire Sciambra and threw to first base to get Laird.
Sixth inning - With two out, Sciambra walked and stole second. Laird struck out to end the inning.
LSU HITTING STAR
Katz had three hits and drove in three runs. He had singles in the second and fifth innings. Katz' fifth-inning single tied the score at 3-3. His sixth-home run of the season in the eighth gave the Tigers a comfortable 9-3 advantage. Katz increased his batting average to a season-high .355. He now has 27 runs batted in.
LSU STARTING PITCHER
Russell Reynolds was lifted after two innings. Reynolds, who had been sidelined for more than two weeks due to tendonitis in his shoulder, was scheduled to pitch the first three innings. Reynolds allowed one base-runner - Lyons, who singled with two out in the first.
Relievers handled the final seven innings for the Tigers. Hunter Newman pitched the third and gave up a run. Ty Ross threw out Vargas stealing to end the inning. After retiring the side in order in his first inning, Hunter Devall allowed two fifth-inning runs. Devall gave up four singles, one a bunt, in the inning. The damage could have been greater, but Sciambra threw out Zorn, who rounded second base too far on a single by Richard. Will LaMarche pitched out of trouble in the sixth. He walked Lyons, who stole second. LaMarche retired the next three hitters on a strikeout, a line out to Katz at first base and a foul pop up to the third baseman Ibarra. Nick Rumbelow faced two batters in the seventh. He walked the leadoff batter and then got a 6-4-3 double play. Lefty Brent Bonvillain was called on to throw to the lefthanded batting Zorn, who grounded out to shortstop. Joey Bourgeois pitched to just one batter as he was hit on the leg by a line drive off the bat of Richard, who was thrown out at first base. Kevin Berry retired two of the three hitters he faced. Nate Fury and Chris Cotton divided the ninth - two outs by Fury and one by Cotton. The Tigers bullpen allowed three runs and five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Bonvillain picked up his first victory of the season.
LSU used its regular lineup against Nicholls State with Tyler Moore serving as the designated hitter. Moore flied out with the bases loaded and one out in the second and was lifted in favor of Chris Chinea in the fourth. . .Laird extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single in the first. Laird also had a bunt single. He is 15-for-31 in his hitting streak. . .Jones had his first multiple-hit game since the Maryland contest on February 17. Jones, who had two singles, was 7-for-40 since that two-hit game against the Terps. . .Bregman extended his hitting streak to five games with a single in the seventh. Bregman, who also doubled, is 11-for-20 in his hitting streak . .Ibarra also had two hits, including a single which drove home the go-ahead run in the seventh. . .The Tigers were 7-for-16 with runners in scoring position. . .Duplantis had two of Nicholls State's six hits. . .The Colonels made five errors, but none of LSU's runs were unearned. . .Both teams wore light blue batting helmets on Prostate Cancer Awareness Night. . .The actual crowd was 4,775. The Tigers have won 11 straight games. LSU also had an 11-game winning streak in 2011. . .LSU is 16-1, while Nicholls State is 9-9. The Tigers were also 16-1 when they started Southeastern Conference play in 2011.
FROM THE CLUBHOUSE
Coach Paul Mainieri
"I didn't expect us to play good tonight. The kids are human. We are 15-1, ranked No. 2 in the country. We open SEC play this weekend against a top-ten team (Mississippi State). This was the definition of a trap game. I could tell three hours before the game when we were practicing bunting that their minds were not in it. We had typical mistakes which tend to happen when you are not focused to the max. I was just hoping to score one more run than Nicholls. We did some good stuff. We'll get some positive feelings from what happened there in the eighth inning."
"All of the guys in the lineup have the potential to do damage. People won't pitch around me with (Christian) Ibarra and JaCoby (Jones) hitting after me. I am getting better pitches to hit because of those guys behind me. Then, in front of me are two of the best freshmen in the country (Mark Laird and Alex Bregman) and one of the best hitters in the country (Raph Rhymes). I am hitting well because of our lineup."
(on his two-run double in the eighth) "I was looking for a fast ball. It was a 3-2 count and we had guys on base. That allowed me to see some good pitches. I am just going up there trying to put a good swing on the ball. Whoever comes up with men on base is supposed to come through."
(on his seventh-inning single which gave LSU the lead for good) "In my third at-bat (previous one), I got a lot of curve balls. So, my next at-bat I was looking for curves. I got all curves. I sat back and pushed the ball back up the middle."
LSU will play Mississippi State (18-2) at Starkville in its Southeastern Conference opener Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Bulldogs' two defeats came against Central Arkansas last weekend. Aaron Nola (2-0, 2.77 ERA) will be the starting pitcher for the Tigers.