Baton Rouge -- With all the talk of lineup changes, the middle of the LSU order remained the same Wednesday night.
Mikie Mahtook, Austin Nola and Mason Katz, Nos. 4,5 and 6 in Paul Mainieri’s order, produced five of the Tigers’ six runs in a 6-0 win over McNeese State at Alex Box Stadium.
Mahtook tripled in the fourth inning, and after a lengthy at bat by Nola that ended in a walk, Katz plated Mahtook on a safety squeeze.
After Tyler Hanover’s two-out RBI single in the fifth inning, the middle of the Tiger order went to work in the sixth.
Mahtook singled up the middle and stole second and third. Nola drew another full-count walk and stole second, putting a couple of men on base for Katz.
Swinging away, the former Jesuit star smoked a two-run single past a drawn in infield to account for his second and third RBI’s of the evening.
“Coach came up to me and asked if I wanted (the squeeze) again and I said absolutely not,” Katz joked. “I’m glad he had confidence in me, and I’m glad I got the job done.”
Freshmen arms were the story of the night for LSU (18-7, 1-5) on the mound.
Forrest Garrett made his season debut after having Tommy John surgery last spring, going 1.2 innings before handing the ball to Samuel Peterson.
“It was a good first time for (Garrett),” Mainieri said. “Getting the emotions out of the way and the nerves in check was good,”
Garrett used a double play to get out of the first inning after firing just seven pitches. He ran into some trouble in the second when a single and a pair of walks loaded the bases, and Mainieri summoned Peterson from the bullpen, who induced a groundout from Trey Rickrode to end the inning.
Peterson worked three more scoreless frames and allowed just two hits and a walk to earn his first collegiate win.
“I like (Peterson) a whole lot,” Mainieri said. “He’s not shaken. He doesn’t have the deer in the headlights look. I went into the game with the idea he was going to pitch an inning, but once he was pitching well, I thought why not ride him.”
Peterson gave way to yet another freshman, Joe Broussard, who tossed a pair of perfect innings.
Mahtook’s sacrifice fly in the seventh increased the margin to six, and Chris Cotton and Matty Ott finished off the first shutout of McNeese State all season.
The loss snaps a two-game skid for the Tigers, who return to conference play on Friday night against Ole Miss at Alex Box.
Kurt McCune, another freshman, will take the mound for LSU for the first time since hurling a complete game win on Friday night against Georgia.