LSU earns a hard-fought 7-6 victory to win clinch the series against Kentucky Saturday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium
LSU earned the game-winning run when right fielder Brayden Jobert reached home plate after Tommy White was hit by a pitch with bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth.
“I’m so proud of our team,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “We have so many things that we can do better and that we’re going to work on to do better. But, to just gut that thing out and find a way to win that game is a credit to our team. I’m very proud of them, they’ll get a well-deserved day off, and I’m really excited for another good week coming up; it doesn’t slow down.
LSU reliever Bryce Collins (2-0) picked up his second win of the year. Collins, who was the fourth and final reliever that LSU brought out of the bullpen, finished with one hit one walk and four strikeouts in 2.1 innings.
“Bryce gave us a special performance, and I think that’s six good outings in a row for him,” Johnson said. “I always knew it was in him; he had some adversity earlier this year and wasn’t pitching real well, but now he’s right in the thick of the plans as much as anybody.”
Kentucky reliever Zack Lee (3-2) was charged with the loss as he finished with three runs (all earned) on four hits and a strikeout.
First baseman Jared Jones got the Tigers on the board first with a solo home run to give LSU an early 1-0 lead in the second inning. Following hits by left fielder Tre Morgan and Dylan Crews, LSU got on the board again in the third inning when Morgan reached home plate on a wild pitch.
Kentucky got its first run on the board in the first after they were able to score a run on a walk with the bases loaded in the fourth inning to make the score 2-1.
Kentucky would tie the game when right fielder Nolan McCarthy reached home plate after shortstop Grant Smith’s sac bunt.
After both teams scored a run on an RBI groundout to tie the game at 3-3, the Tigers would regain the lead in emphatic fashion in the bottom of the sixth. Jones sent a solo dinger over the left-center field with a bat flip and kind words to Kentucky pitcher Austin Strickland to give LSU a 4-3 lead. Jones’ homer was his second of the game and 11th of the season
“I sensed an awesome focus with Jared today,” Johnson said. “I had a good gut feeling that he was locked in and ready to go. On the second homer, he got on top of a fastball and hit it a mile. That was impressive; he’s becoming such a good player and I’m really proud of his development.”
In the top of the seventh, Kentucky took its first lead of the game when first baseman Hunter Gilliam lined a two-RBI double to right center to make the score 5-4. Gilliam would later score at home plate when third baseman Jase Felker hit an RBI single to extend Kentucky’s lead to 6-4.
However, LSU immediately responded in the bottom half to tie the game 6-6 when shortstop Jordan Thompson drove in Morgan with an RBI double down the left field line and designated hitter Cade Beloso hit a clutch RBI single to bring home Thompson.
White’s bases-loaded HBP in the eighth gave LSU the winning run, and Collins closed the game by forcing Felker to ground out to secure the victory.
LSU improves its record to 29-6 overall and 9-5 in conference play. The Tigers have not lost a series in conference play. Kentucky drops to 28-7 overall and 10-5 in conference play.
LSU will take on UL-Lafayette at Alex Box Stadium this Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. CT and will be streamed on SEC Network+ in another in-state affair.