LSU’s bats remained alive through the cold, damp, and windy night to take the series from Tennessee in a 14-5 win.
With the win LSU improves to 23-13 on the season and 8-6 in SEC play.
“I know fans love offense and we’ve given them offense two nights in a row,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “And our starting pitchers have been phenomenal.”
Nick Coomes led the charge for the Tigers reaching base in all four at-bats and three base hits with a double thrown in while scoring twice. Zach Watson also had a three-hit night with an RBI and two runs scored. Jake Slaughter brought in four runs in the game on the back of a two-run triple to right and a two-run home run through the wind to left.
Freshman pitcher Ma’Khail Hilliard pitched well, throwing 6 innings of five-hit baseball with three runs allowed (all earned) while walking one and striking out six. Hilliard gave up all of his runs on two hits and a walk in the 3rd inning, but outside of that he was fantastic. He only gave up two hits in the other 5 innings he threw and didn’t give up more than one per inning and recorded three clean innings.
“It’s really relaxing when I get on the mound and knowing that I have a lot of insurance runs behind me,” Hilliard said. “I just tried to grind it out and get to the 7th inning. “
LSU exploded out the gates with five runs in the first inning, jump started by Beau Jordan reaching on an error and back to back singles from Zach Watson and Antoine Duplantis. Daniel Cabrera came up with a two out single to score Nick Coomes, and Jake Slaughter wiped the bases clean with a triple to the left field corner to put the Tigers ahead 5-0.
The Tigers tacked on another run in the second after Zach Watson singled to lead off the inning and stole second to get in scoring position. Austin Bain scored him with a single right up the middle.
Tennessee cut the lead in half with three runs in the top of the 5th, beginning with Nico Mascia’s solo home run to right field. Evan Russell reached on a walk and moved to second on Pete Derkey’s single down the first base line. Wyatt Stapp doubled both runs with a loud line drive to right that might have flirted with becoming a round-tripper if the wind was more cooperative.
LSU answered with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning after Nick Coomes led off with a double to right. Daniel Cabrera followed suit with a single hit to short. Hal Hughes sacrificed himself on the safety squeeze, but Tennessee went for the out at home instead of the free one at first. The flip home from pitcher Garrett Stallings was misplayed and the run scored with both Cabrera and Hughes moving up a base on the error. A groundout from Beau Jordan scored Cabrera and Zach Watson’s single to left plated Hughes to push LSU’s lead back to 6.
Nick Coomes’ third hit of the night started the bottom half of the 7th inning when he reached on an infield hit, setting up Slaughter’s two run bomb into the stiff wind coming from left field.
“I don’t know what has gotten into Jake Slaughter but whatever it is, let’s keep doing it,” Mainieri said. “I didn’t think there was any chance somebody would hit a home run to left field tonight. That ball he hit, I didn’t know a human being could hit a ball that hard.”
Hal Hughes followed Slaughter with a single up the gut, but was erased on a Beau Jordan fielder’s choice. Zach Watson drew a walk and both runners advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. Duplantis scored both of them with a line drive to right to widen LSU’s lead to 13-3.
Tennessee scored two more runs with three singles and an RBI ground out to reach the five runs. LSU added a solo pinch hit home run from Nick Webre, the first of his career, to push the the lead to it’s final state of 14-5. Webre’s shot was a mammoth one, climbing all the way to the top of the Diamond Deck
The Tigers will go for the sweep at 4:00pm Sunday. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.