Behind five and-a-third innings of shutout ball from Ma’Khail Hilliard, LSU (19-8, 4-4) evened its series with Auburn in a 9-2 win setting up a Saturday rubber match.
Hilliard struck out seven and only allowed four hits. The combination of Eric Reyzelman and Trent Vietmeier pitched the final two-and-a-third innings and combined for four strikeouts and just one hit surrendered.
“A great performance by Ma’Khail tonight, he’s probably one of the most competitive guys on the team,” Jay Johnson said. “He’s really lifted us these last few weeks, and I’d hate to think where we’d be if we didn’t have him on the team this year. He’s a true pitcher and winner, and that’s what we want to have here at LSU.”
Hilliard had run support from the get-go thanks to a first inning homer by Dylan Crews, his seventh of the season.
LSU tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning, the first by way of an RBI double by Cade Doughty—who played shortstop while Jordan Thompson moved to second base—and then Crews drove Doughty home.
Auburn got back into the game in the seventh when they scored a pair of runs, one off of Grant Taylor and the other off Paul Gervase, but LSU put any fears to bed in the bottom half of the inning with a five-run effort. And, fittingly enough, just as Auburn scored six runs in the fifth inning of Friday’s game with two outs, LSU scored all five of those runs with two outs.
Jacob Berry kept the inning alive with a base hit that scored Hayden Travinski. A throwing error advanced Berry to second and moved Dylan Crews to third. Crews came home thanks to a wild pitch and moments later Jordan Thompson hit a two-run double down the left field line.
Gavin Dugas brought Thompson home to make it an 8-2 game and LSU tacked on one more run in the eighth for good measure to win comfortably 9-2.
“I think tonight’s win was a sign of maturity for our team,” Johnson said. “We’re going to grow as a team this year, and we’re going to grow as a program. We all want everything right now, but in baseball, that’s not realistic. We emphasized tonight staying on the attack and remaining focused on where we are in the game, and I’m proud of the way our players responded to adversity to come up with a good win tonight.”
LSU tries to take its second straight conference series Saturday. First pitch is set for 1:00.