Baton Rouge -- Ben Alsup must have had his eyes closed on Saturday night.
Just hours after the Ole Miss bats erupted for 16 runs, LSU’s senior starter threw a career high eight innings against the Rebels and allowed just two runs on eight hits in LSU’s 8-2 series clinching win.
The Tiger bats attacked Rebel starter Austin Wright early in counts during the opening leg of the game, roughing him up for six runs in the first three innings.
Raph Rhymes led off the first inning with a first-pitch single, Tyler Hanover reached on a throwing error by Wright after laying down a terrific bunt, and JaCoby Jones walked to open the door for a big LSU inning.
“I really wanted to come out and set the tone,” Rhymes said. “I came out there wanting to get a hit on that first pitch.”
With the bases loaded, the sizzling Mikie Mahtook scorched a one-hopper to Preston Overbey, who gloved it, touched third and threw wildly passed Miles Hamblin. The throwing error allowed Jones to score after Rhymes, and Mahtook scampered all the way to third. He would score on an Austin Nola ground out.
“It was nice to get a lead, especially after a rough night last night,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We kept piling it on, too.”
Alex Edward continued LSU’s aggressive approach at the plate, drilling Wright’s first delivery of the second inning over the left field wall for his first home run of the season.
Jones reached on an infield hit in the third and came around to score on a controversial triple off Mahtook’s bat. The ball appeared to clear the wall in centerfield, but the triple stood.
Mahtook would score on another Nola RBI ground out.
“I am pretty sure I know what the result (of the triple) should have been,” Mahtook joked. “Austin did a good job of driving me in.”
With the lead at 6-0 and Alsup cruising, the LSU (20-8, 3-6) bats kept the pressure on Wright (3-3), ultimately forcing Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco to hook his starter after just three and one-third innings.
With a pair of runners in scoring position, Jones came up with the clutch hit off Rebel reliever Eric Callender to plate a pair of runs and increase the lead to 7-0.
“In the fall, coach told us that what is going to win games is clutch hits,” Jones said following his two-hit, two-RBI afternoon. “He threw me a fastball middle-away, so I drove it up the middle.”
From there, it was all Alsup (4-3).
Coming off of his worst two outings of the year, Alsup stymied the Rebel hitters with an array of off-speed pitches and some great defense.
With two runners on in the seventh inning and the meat of the order coming up, Alsup fanned Blake Newalu to escape a potential jam.
And in the eighth, he issued his only two walks of the game to begin the inning before retiring three straight Rebels to end the threat.
“I just mixed it up. That’s what I do best,” Alsup said. “I had a couple of iffy outings before this one. I got going in those first three innings, and I knew that I was going to give my team a chance to win the game.”
The only blemish on Alsup’s line was a two-run home run by Matt Smith that tattooed the left field scoreboard in the fourth.
Matty Ott threw a scoreless ninth for LSU to clinch the Tigers’ first SEC series win of the season.
“We had a little chip on our shoulder from last night,” Rhymes said. “We decided we were going to come out, and we were going to swing the bat. We had fun today.”