Baton Rouge -- A week ago LSU let a sweep of Princeton escape by digging a deep hole on Sunday.
Consider it a lesson learned.
LSU (15-1) buried Cal State Fullerton early on Sunday as they cruised to a 10-2 win and a weekend sweep of their visitors from the West.
For the third time in as many games LSU tallied a pair of runs in the opening inning off of a Titan starter who entered the game with a sub-two earned run average.
Sunday’s victim, Colin O’Connell, walked Trey Watkins to open the game, and Raph Rhymes then singled to left. After a Tyler Hanover sacrifice bunt, his sixth of the year, a Mikie Mahtook groundout and an Austin Nola double pushed the two runs across.
Mahtook and Nola each went 2-for-5 and combined to drive in six runs in the game.
On Friday night the Tigers let Cal State Fullerton starter Noe Ramirez wiggle off the hook in the first inning and settle into a groove. Ramirez eventually retired 13 straight hitters in the middle innings, allowing the Titans back into the ballgame and creating a high-stress ending.
Another lesson learned.
In the second, LSU put O’Connell on the ropes and wouldn’t let up, chasing the right-hander after just an inning and one-third.
“Anytime you can get their starter out early, it’s a win for the offense,” Mahtook said. “The guy on Friday was their ace, and he showed why he was their ace.”
The Tigers used three of Fullerton’s 10 weekend errors, six stolen bases and four hits to plate five runs in the bottom of the second, creating a 7-0 advantage.
Trey Watkins doubled in the third and scored his second of three runs on a Hanover RBI single, making the lead 8-0.
That was more than enough for senior starter Ben Alsup.
The Ruston native followed the example set by his freshman rotation mates Kurt McCune and Kevin Gausman by outdueling the highly-touted Fullerton rotation.
“Cal State Fullerton, their staff is really good, but ours is too,” Alsup said. “We have all the confidence in the world. To go toe-to-toe with those guys and come out on top is really special.”
Alsup threw six and two-third innings and allowed just two runs, only one of which was earned, on four hits while striking out five.
Freshman Samuel Peterson and sophomore Jimmy Dykstra threw two and one-third innings of perfect relief to finish off the first sweep of Cal State Fullerton since Stanford reached the feat in 2008.
“Any time you sweep a team of this caliber, it just helps that confidence build,” Mahtook said. “It’s a great prep for the SEC weekend coming up next against Florida.”
The 27,194 people who filed into Alex Box Stadium over the weekend is the largest crowd to watch a series in the brief history of the ballpark.
That number will surely be in jeopardy when No. 1 Florida visits Baton Rouge in a week to open SEC play.
LSU will hit the road for the first time in 2010 to face in-state foe Nicholls State on Wednesday in Thibodaux.