The weather and the LSU baseball team are in mid-season form as February comes to a close.
The Tigers improved to 7-0 Sunday, sweeping away the Holy Cross Crusaders, 15-4, in front of 6,117 sun-drenched fans at Alex Box Stadium.
Senior starter Ben Alsup tossed an efficient and effective six innings to earn his second win of the season.
The right hander cruised through the first five innings, allowing just one unearned run, before yielding his first earned run of the season in the sixth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Alsup shut the door on the rally and his afternoon, inducing a routine fly out from Andrew Barry.
Alsup allowed five hits and three walks while striking out one over the six innings.
“A couple of pitches, a couple of at-bats, got away from me,” he said. “I walked a couple of guys, but I kept fighting. It’s imperative to get that next guy and get out of the inning.”
Sophomores Alex Edward and Mason Katz were LSU’s offensive catalysts.
Katz doubled behind an Austin Nola leadoff single in the second, and Edward slammed a Nate Koneski offering off the left field wall for a double of his own to plate two and get LSU on the scoreboard.
Freshman JaCoby Jones drove Edward in with an opposite field single, making the lead 3-0.
Raph Rhymes led off the third with a single, and Mikie Mahtook jolted a two-run blast over the left field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season.
Two more Tigers would score in a wacky fifth inning that featured three consecutive Crusader throwing errors and no batted balls reaching the outfield.
Edward ripped a ground ball off third baseman Kyle Stearns, who picked it up and airmailed first baseman Eric Oxford. Koneski then fielded bunts from Jordy Snikeris and Jones and threw wildly both times, allowing them to reach safely. Edward scored on the Snikeris bunt, and Snikeris crossed home plate on Jones’.
“We’re a much better bunting team than we were last year,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It’s something we’ve worked really hard on all fall, and we’re going to continue to do it.
“That pitcher, who is not normally the best athlete out there, has to make a play, so it doesn’t surprise me to see a guy throw a ball away.”
As Alsup continued to hold Holy Cross at bay, Katz stroked his team-leading sixth double, his second of the afternoon, to score Nola. Edward followed suit with his second of three hits, this time an RBI single in a three-run fifth.
“I feel like every time I come up Mason is in scoring position, so you have to give credit to him,” Edward said.
LSU’s final crooked number came in the seventh when five Tigers scored five times.
LSU sandwiched a Mikie Mahtook RBI single between a pair of two-RBI singles, one by Trey Watkins and the other from Joe Broussard.
The fifteen run outburst marks the fourth consecutive game that LSU has scored double-digit runs. The Tigers have accomplished that feat just twice since 2003.
LSU will play five time this weekend beginning on Tuesday when Southeastern Louisiana visits the Box. The Lions throttled Tulane last Tuesday, 13-1, and defeated Alabama on Friday night.
“I’m really excited about Tuesday night,” Mainieri said. “I’ve been watching the Southeastern program develop under Jay Artigues, and he has done a great job. You’re talking about a team that plays with a lot of confidence.”
Tyler Jones, who defeated UNO last Tuesday, will take the ball for the Tigers.
Mississippi Valley State comes in for a Wednesday night contest before Princeton opens their season in Baton Rouge in game one of a three-game series at Alex Box Stadium.