Baton Rouge -- LSU entered Friday night’s game against Kentucky without having won three consecutive games since March 16 when they beat Nicholls St. for their fifth-straight win.
The Tigers (27-16, 6-14) wasted no time putting a strangle hold on Kentucky, and they never let up - coasting to a 12-4 series-clinching win at Alex Box Stadium.
The home team fired up a five spot in the bottom of the second inning when they sent 11 men to the plate and eventually ended Kentucky starter Corey Littrell’s night.
Littrell’s defense didn’t do him any favors, though.
With no one out, Matt Reida kicked a potential double play ball off Tyler Hanover’s bat. Mason Katz followed with a single through the right side to load the bases.
The heavy footed Ty Ross followed with a ground ball to the shortstop that, again, looked to be a double play, but Taylor Black bobbled it and was only able to get Ross at first.
JaCoby Jones’ two-run single, Trey Watkins RBI groundout and Raph Rhymes’ RBI single gave LSU a 5-0 lead, but that was more than Kevin Gausman required.
The freshman dazzled, allowing a single run on two hits through seven innings while striking out eight.
“It was nice to get a win in the SEC,” Gausman (3-5) said following his first league victory. “I really didn’t have my best stuff tonight. It’s great to pitch with a lead. That’s not something I’m really used to.”
Katz was as big a part of that growing lead as any.
The Harahan native came off the bench on Thursday night to deliver a two-run double in the eighth inning after missing two weeks with a chipped bone in his hand.
The sophomore got his first start at first base on Friday and made the most of it, collecting a career-high four hits, including three doubles.
“My swing is feeling good,” Katz said. “I simplified my swing since I came back, and it’s been working the last couple of days.”
Rhymes and Jones pitched in with three hit nights, as well.
As the Tigers dropped series after series in SEC play, it seemed as though everything that could go wrong did.
The roles have reversed this weekend. The Wildcats have committed five errors in two games, and LSU’s batted balls are finding the smallest of holes.
“It feels good to be on this side of it,” Katz side. “It’s now or never, so we’re trying to get hot.”
LSU now is in search of their first sweep since Cal State Fullerton made the trek to Baton Rouge.
Senior Ben Alsup (5-4, 3.93 ERA) will get the call for Mainieri’s squad on Friday. In an effort to avoid being swept for the fifth time in SEC play this season, Kentucky (20-24, 2-16) will counter with lefty Taylor Rogers (2-5, 5.16 ERA)
The game is scheduled for 1 p.m.