A gorgeous Friday night at Alex Box Stadium got ugly real quick for visiting Wake Forest.
After senior starter Ben Alsup wiggled out of a bases loaded no out jam in the top of the first, LSU’s offense exploded for six runs on five hits in each of the first two innings en route to a 15-4 win to open the 2011 season.
Sophomore right fielder Mason Katz ripped a pair of doubles and drove in a career best three runs in the first two frames, and junior centerfielder Mikie Mahtook blasted a pair of home runs over the left field wall to propel LSU (1-0) to a huge lead.
Junior shortstop Austin Nola tied a career best three hits in four at bats. He also scored three times.
Freshman JaCoby Jones impressed the record crowd of 10,055 at Alex Box Stadium with a pair of hits, a stolen base, an RBI and a run in his Tiger debut.
“I had a lot of nerves in my first at bat,” said Jones. “After that first hit, I knew that I was meant to be here.”
Alsup settled in after allowing the first three Wake Forest batters to reach and hurled five strong innings. In his first Friday night start, the Ruston native allowed just one unearned run and scattered five hits while striking out four and walking two.
“I was really relaxed, but I don’t think I was driving the ball to a spot,” said Alsup of his early struggles. “Once I got out of the (first) inning, I started making better pitches, and that was a momentum builder for us.”
Wake starter Austin Sadler didn’t fare as well. The junior lefty allowed 13 runs, seven earned, over three innings. He struck out four Tigers and walked one.
Freshman reliever Nick Rumbelow picked up where Alsup left off and retired the Demon Deacons in order in the sixth. The seventh got a little sticky as Rumbelow allowed three runs before bearing down and retiring the Demon Deacons in order in the eighth. Rumbelow fanned four and walked a pair in his three innings.
New Orleans transfer Kevin Berry came on to finish the ball game, tossing a perfect ninth inning.
The record crowd dwindled as the Tiger lead grew, but the atmosphere at the Box was as electric. The Tigers thrived in the environment. The visitors from the ACC crumbled, committing three costly errors early in the ballgame.
“C’mon, it’s the Box,” said Nola. “You expect that on a Friday night.”
LSU and Wake Forest will play game two of the series Saturday at 2 p.m. Freshman righthander Kevin Gausman will take the ball for LSU. Wake Forest will counter with sophomore lefty Tim Cooney.