BATON ROUGE -- LSU starter Ben Alsup fired 8.2 superb innings, while left fielder Raph Rhymes doubled twice and knocked in a pair of runs to lead the 21st-ranked Tigers (23-14, 4-11 SEC) to a 3-2 victory over Auburn (20-15, 7-8 SEC) in Game 3 Sunday at Alex Box Stadium.
Alsup (5-3) was on his way to a complete-game shutout before he was charged with two runs on a pop fly that dropped in the outfield for a single after right fielder Mason Katz lost the ball in the sun.
The senior right-hander, who limited Auburn to only five hits and a walk, earned the victory nonetheless when right-hander Matty Ott struck out first baseman Kevin Patterson to end the game. Ott was credited with his fifth save of the season.
Auburn starter Jon Luke Jacobs (1-3) was charged with the loss after surrendering three earned runs off three hits and six walks in five innings.
Rhymes finished 2-for-4 on the afternoon and collected his team-high 10th and 11th doubles of the season, while shortstop Austin Nola also delivered an RBI.
Center fielder Mikie Mahtook drew four walks, including two intentional passes, to tie an LSU record for walks in a game, and the junior also stole his 21st base of the season to move into a tie with former infielder Josh Dalton for eighth all-time on the LSU career steals list with 52.
“The story of the game was Ben Alsup and the tremendous performance he gave on the mound,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I’m so proud of that young man – he’s waited his turn in our program, and he’s developed into an outstanding pitcher. He gave us a huge lift today when we really needed it.”
After LSU loaded the bases in the first with three walks in the first four plate appearances, Nola hit a sacrifice fly to center to give the Tigers a 1-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, Alsup was nearly unhittable in the early innings, retiring 14 of the first 16 batters he faced in the first five frames.
The Tigers added two runs in the bottom of the fifth to go up, 3-0. Catcher Ty Ross broke up Auburn Jacobs’ no-hitter with a base hit to right, and third baseman Tyler Hanover singled two at-bats later. Rhymes then followed with a two-run double to left center field.
Alsup maintained his dominance in the late innings, fanning two batters in both the seventh and eighth innings.
Auburn was finally able to muster some successful at-bats against the right-hander in the ninth and chased him from the game after catcher Tony Caldwell’s two-out, two-run single to right center. However, Ott shut down the Plainsmen’s rally with his game-ending strikeout.
“This weekend didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, losing two out of three at home,” Mainieri said. “But, we have the second half of the SEC season in front of us, and our goals are still in reach.”
LSU will take on Southern Mississippi in the Wally Pontiff, Jr. Classic on Wednesday at Zephyr Field in Metairie. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. CDT.