Aaron Nola threw seven hitless innings and Christian Ibarra had three hits and three runs batted in as LSU defeated Virginia Tech 9-0 in a non-conference game at The Box on Friday night.
HOW THEY SCORED
LSU second inning - Chris Chinea reached on an error by shortstop Matt Dauby. After Ibarra flied out to the rightfielder, Chinea moved to second on a single by Tyler Moore. After Jared Foster flied out to the centerfielder, Chinea scored on a single by Andrew Stevenson. Sean McMullen hit a three-run homer over the rightfield fence. LSU 4, VIRGINIA TECH 0
LSU third inning - Alex Bregman doubled and Connor Hale reached on an error by Dauby. Both runners moved up a base when Chinea grounded out to the second baseman. Bregman and Hale scored on Ibarra's single. Ibarra was awarded third base when leftfielder Ryan Burns' throw went into the third-base dugout. Ibarra scored on an infield single by Moore. LSU 7, VIRGINIA TECH 0
LSU fourth inning - McMullen and Mark Laird drew walks. After Bregman popped out to the third baseman, Hale walked. McMullen scored on Chinea's sacrifice fly to the centerfielder. Laird scored on a single by Ibarra. LSU 9, VIRGINIA TECH 0
LSU WASTED SCORING OPPORTUNITIES
First inning - With one out, Laird walked. After Bregman flied out to the centerfielder, Laird stole second base. Hale grounded out to the second baseman.
Fifth inning - With two out, McMullen singled and Laird walked. Bregman forced Laird at second with a ground ball to the shortstop.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Ibarra, who was just 2-for-11 prior to Friday's game, snapped out of his slump with three singles and three RBIs. All three of Ibarra's hits came with two out. His two-out single in the third gave LSU a 6-0 lead. He drove in the Tigers' final run with a single in the fourth. Ibarra tied his career-high for hits and RBIs in a game. He had three hits in a game five times and three runs batted in three times in a game last season.
Nola was almost perfect in picking up his second victory of the season. Nola allowed only two base-runners - Mark Zagunis on a Bregman throwing error in the first and Saige Jenco on a walk in the third. Nola, who struck out eight, retired the last 13 batters he faced. Both Zagunis and Jenco were in scoring position with two out. Nola got Sean Keselica to ground out in the first and Alex Perez to ground out in the third. No LSU pitcher has thrown a nine-inning no-hitter. The last Tigers hurler to go deeper into a game without allowing a hit was Brian Winders, who went 8.2 innings against Ole Miss in 1995. Nola has not allowed a run in 13 innings this season. The victory was the second of the season and the 21st of Nola's career.
There has never been a combination nine-inning no-hitter in school history. LSU had an opportunity to accomplish that feat Friday. However, Alden Cartwright gave up a two-out, pinch-hit single by Tom Stoffel in the eighth. Zac Person, who worked the ninth, yielded a one-out single by Perez. With a runner at second base, Person struck out pinch-hitter Andrew Mogg to end the game. Cartwright also had one strikeout in his inning.
Chinea was the catcher and Moore was the first baseman. Hale batted fourth for the second straight game. Stevenson was the nine-hole hitter. . .McMullen's home run was his first of the season and the third of his career. The three RBIs in the game tied McMullen's career-high. He drove in three runs on four occasions last season. . .McMullen and Moore each had two hits. . .Bregman extended his hitting streak to five games with a leadoff double in the third. . .Hale, who went 0-for-4, failed to get a hit for the first time this season. . .Laird reached base four times on three walks and a hit batter. . .Chinea and Foster were both hitless. Chinea did drive in a run with a sacrifice fly. . .Stevenson had one hit, but struck out twice. . .Kramer Robertson and Jarret DeHart made outs as pinch-hitters. . .Cade Stone, Kade Scivicque and Danny Zardon were defensive substitutions. Robertson, who batted for Bregman, played shortstop in the ninth. . .LSU stranded eight runners, three in scoring position. The Tigers were 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position. . .Bregman made his second error of the season in the first inning. Both of his errors have been on poor throws to first base. . .Virginia Tech starting pitcher Brad Markey was the victim of poor defense. He allowed seven runs in 2.1 innings. However, just one run was earned due to three Hokies errors. . .The Virginia Tech bullpen yielded just two runs and three hits in 5.2 innings. . .Since Paul Mainieri became coach, the Tigers have an 8-3 record against ACC teams. All three losses came against North Carolina in the College World Series. . .LSU has opened the season with five victories for the sixth straight year. The Tigers have won 25 consecutive games at home against non-Southeastern Conference teams. The last non-conference opponent to beat LSU at The Box was BYU last season. . .Virginia Tech (1-2) will play Texas Southern at 1 p.m. on Saturday at The Box. . .The paid attendance was 11,417. The actual crowd was 7,724. . .Mainieri was under the weather and didn't go on his post-game radio show. He was replaced by pitching coach Alan Dunn.
FROM THE CLUBHOUSE
"That's what you are looking to do with your Friday night starter. You want him to establish what you are going to do over the weekend. That's Aaron Nola. He lets his stuff do what is needed to be done. He had to make some adjustments early in the game. You are not going to throw every pitch where you want it to go. He got out of rhythm early, but he regrouped. He got back in the groove and threw the ball extremely well."
"There was never a question about Aaron going out there after the seventh. Paul and I talk about a plan before the game. We had a plan tonight for what we wanted to get out of Aaron - how many pitches we wanted. When he got there (87 pitches), that was it. The season is a marathon. We need to have Aaron for later in the season."
"Finally, I got some hits. I had to make a couple of adjustments with my timing. I normally put my foot down when the pitcher turns his hips. I had been out of rhythm. I watched a couple of videos from the last couple of games last year. I watched the UCLA game where I hit the ball hard."
"I think I could sleep at third base when Aaron pitches. He shuts everybody down. When Aaron pitches, we are going to have a good chance to win the game."
"I had to make some adjustments because I was getting behind a few hitters. Having the no-hitter kept me focused with the big lead. I felt really good in the bullpen before the game. I could have gone the eighth and the ninth. Coach (Mainieri) is watching me with my pitch count. It's early in the season and I understand."
"I have confidence starting off the season this year, I just want to have good at-bats like I was doing at the end of last season. I hit the home run on a fast ball up. I didn't know it was going out. I knew I barreled the ball up. I thought it was a triple and then I saw the rightfielder turn and run."
LSU will play host to Toledo at The Box at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The Rockets (2-2) defeated Texas Southern 1-0 on Friday afternoon at The Box. Kyle Bouman (1-0) will be the starting pitcher for the Tigers.