Although the game was a duel between two of the best pitchers in college baseball, Jordan Thompson’s clutch three-RBI single in the eighth inning propelled No.1 LSU to a 5-2 victory over No.10 Tennessee.
Thursday night’s game attendance against Tennessee was 13,068, the largest crowd to ever attend a game at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
“Our fans were phenomenal, what an electric environment,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “It makes this the best place in the country to play and coach college baseball.”
Thompson who has made big hit after big hit this season will finally get recognition from people all across the country for his clutch hitting, especially the 3-RBI double that put LSU ahead at the bottom of the eighth inning.
“Jordan is special from a competitive-nature standpoint,” Johnson said. “We’re ranked No. 1 in the country right now largely because of Jordan Thompson. I think when the MLB Draft comes around, people will understand how good of a player he is.”
LSU pitcher Paul Skenes has had another incredible showing at the mound. On one of the biggest stages of the season, MLB scouts were lining up to see the matchup between Skenes and fellow projected first-rounder Tennessee pitcher Chase Dollander.
Skenes’ final line was five hits, one run, and 12 strikeouts through seven innings. It was the seventh straight time Skenes has picked up double-digit strikeouts.
“This was the third outing in a row for Paul where he was right around the 100-pitch mark,” Johnson said, “and the last pitch was just as impressive as the first pitch. Tennessee battled him hard, but Paul just didn’t give them anything.”
Although Dollander looked impressive through 4.1 innings, Dollander could not be as dominant as Skenes as his final line was four hits, two earned runs, three walks and four strikeouts.
LSU reliever Garrett Edwards picked up the win after tossing 1.2 innings and allowing no runs with two hits and two strikeouts to close the game.
Volunteer reliever Seth Halvorsen (2-2) was charged with the loss after working 3.2 innings and allowing three runs on three hits with one strikeout.
After four scoreless innings, Tennessee drew first blood when right fielder Christian Scott lined an RBI single up the middle to give the Volunteers a 1-0 lead at the top of the fifth inning.
However, LSU would respond to the early adversity emphatically. Second baseman Gavin Dugas hammered a two-run homer off of Dollander down the left field line to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead over the Volunteers at the end of the fifth. Dugas’ home run was his eighth of the season.
In the eighth inning, the Vols deadlocked the contest at 2-2 with an RBI single by second baseman Christian Moore. The game was tied heading into the bottom of the eighth, but LSU responded in the bottom half with three runs.
After two quick outs, three Tigers reached base consecutively. It started with a fielding error on a ground ball by DH Cade Beloso after Halvorsen was unable to catch the throwout from first baseman Blake Burke. That error was followed by an infield single from right fielder Paxton Kling after he was able to beat out the throw.
Left fielder Josh Pearson would load the bases after he was hit by Halvorsen’s pitch. Thompson’s game-winning three-RBI double cleared the bases, lifted the Tigers to victory and sent the LSU crowd into a frenzy.
Edwards forced Scott to fly out to center field in the final inning to win the game for the Tigers.
LSU improves its overall record to 22-3 and its conference record to 5-2. It is the fourth straight victory for the Tigers.
Tennessee’s record drops to 20-7 overall and 3-4 in conference play.
Game two of the series will be played Friday night at 6 p.m. CT at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge. The game will be played on national television on SEC Network.