Big innings and lopsided scores are quickly becoming the norm at Alex Box Stadium this year.
A seven-run third inning propelled the No. 13 LSU Tigers by Holy Cross, 14-3, Saturday, clinching the series and setting the stage for a second straight sweep to open the 2011 season.
The Tiger offense wasted no time cranking up.
Trey Watkins and Raph Rhymes led off the game with back-to-back doubles. Tyler Hanover reached on a throwing error by second baseman Andrew Barry. Rhymes advanced to third and eventually scored on Mikie Mahtook’s RBI groundout.
Hanover was balked over to third and scored on an Austin Nola fielder’s choice.
The visiting Crusaders fought back.
Tiger first baseman Alex Edward botched a routine ground ball off the bat of Patrick Puentes, and Steven Tkowski made it hurt, launching a two-run homer over the left field bleachers to cut the lead to one.
The Tigers dropped the hammer in the following frame, though.
With runners on first and second Nola stung a liner right at Barry, who dropped it and threw wide of first for his second error of the day. It proved costly.
After Mason Katz fanned with the bases loaded, seven unearned runs crossed the plate.
Ty Ross got the green light on a 3-0 pitch and dropped a two-RBI base hit in to centerfield, and JaCoby Jones continued his piping hot start with a two-run blast to left.
“I (give the green light) to young kids when I kind of want them to get a cripple pitch. Maybe they hit a ball hard, and it gets their confidence up,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri of his decision to let the struggling Ross swing away. “He didn’t hit that ball hard, but fortunately he found a hole.”
Nola wouldn’t need any help in his next at-bat. The junior shortstop drilled his first home run of the season to make the score 11-2 in the fourth.
Katz rebounded from his bases-loaded strikeout and ripped a two-run triple in the sixth. Edward followed with an RBI single.
Working with a large lead, freshman starter Kurt McCune settled in through scoreless fourth, fifth and sixth innings to collect his second win in as many starts. The Destrehan native allowed just four hits and struck out three over his six innings.
“The first two innings, my arm didn’t feel normal,” McCune said. “In the third, it started feeling better. I think I was overthrowing. It’s a learning experience.”
LSU goes for the sweep at noon on Sunday. Senior Ben Alsup, who won LSU’s opener against Wake Forest, will start for the Tigers.