LSU's Nola Baffles Tide Baseball Batters

LSU right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola threw a complete game shutout and held the Alabama lineup to three hits as the second-ranked Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide, 5-0, in the Southeastern Conference series opener on Friday night from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama drops to 23-17 overall and 8-8 in the SEC, and LSU's win improves its record to 36-3 overall and 14-2 in conference play.

"Aaron Nola was outstanding tonight; I certainly tip my cap to him," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "When you face guys like him, it makes it even more difficult when you get down three runs early in the game. This is the third Friday night starter we've seen that has an elite arm and that has been a real challenge. Scoring runs is a step that I think our club has got to make and we've got to find a way to generate some offense against a really good pitcher like the one we saw in Nola."

Nola (7-0) scattered three hits in his complete game performance, allowing a walk, hit one batter and struck out 10. Alabama senior righty Charley Sullivan (3-4) took the loss in his 10th start of the season, after pitching six-plus innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks with eight strikeouts. Sophomore south paw Taylor Guilbeau tossed the final three frames in relief of Sullivan, allowing one run on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

All three of Alabama's hits came from the freshmen, as center fielder Georgie Salem, second baseman Kyle Overstreet and designated hitter Chance Vincent were all 1-for-3 with a single.

For LSU, Raph Rhymes led the way with a 3-for-4 three RBI night that included a two-run triple, while Alex Bregman and Sean McMullen were both 2-for-5 with a run scored.

The Tigers' offense got the scoring started in the first inning. After Sullivan struck out the first batter of the game, Mark Laird and Bregman came up with back-to-back singles, then scored when Rhymes stroked a triple to right center to clear the bags and give LSU an early 2-0 lead.

LSU had their first two batters reach base in the third, as Rhymes doubled down the right field line and Mason Katz drew his second walk of the night. After UA third baseman Kenny Roberts turned a 5-3 double play, Chris Sciambra singled into left field in the next at-bat to drive in the Tigers' third run of the night, as Katz scored on a close play at the plate.

Sullivan lasted until he walked Casey Yocom to start the seventh frame, at which point Gaspard went to the bullpen to bring in Guilbeau. The first batter Guilbeau faced drove a single into the right center gap, allowing Yocom to advance to third. With runners on the corners, Laird flied out deep enough to left field to plate a runner from third. A balk by Guilbeau and back-to-back singles hit by Bregman and Rhymes drove in another run in the inning to make it a 5-0 lead.

"We are going to see another good one tomorrow in Ryan Eades, that is very similar to what we saw here tonight," Gaspard said. "Offensively we've got to find a way to get some guys out there to create some opportunities."

The Alabama Crimson Tide returns to Sewell-Thomas Stadium for the second game of their series with the second-ranked LSU Tigers at 7:05 p.m. CT Saturday. The Tide will start sophomore lefty Justin Kamplain (0-0, 4.07), and the Tigers will counter with junior right-hander Ryan Eades (7-1, 1.97).

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