Baton Rouge -- LSU can’t quiet see out of the hole they’ve dug, but they’re closer.
A red-hot Mason Katz and some help from a shaky Kentucky defense aided LSU (28-17, 7-14) to a 8-4 win on Saturday and a series sweep over the Wildcats.
Katz maintained his blistering pace with his fourth and fifth doubles of the weekend and a homer, driving in three runs.
“Coming off the injury, I just wanted to come back and do everything I could to help my team,” Katz said. “We have a chance to do something special this year, and we’re on our way.”
Katz’s first double came in the first inning, which scored Trey Watkins for the Tigers’ first run. Katz scored later in the inning when Paul McConkey committed the first of Kentucky’s five errors, throwing wildly to first base, allowing Raph Rhymes to reach first and advance to second.
Tyler Hanover delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle to score Rhymes and push the lead to 3-0.
Tiger starter Ben Alsup rendered the Kentucky bats scoreless through the first three frames, and Katz led off the bottom of the third with a rocket over the wall in left to pad the lead to 4-0.
“I’ve never seen a kid so hot,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Boy, Katz really inspired our team.”
Down but not out, Kentucky responded with a two-spot in the fourth after two were out.
Michael Williams singled, and Neiko Johnson doubled him home to get the Wildcats on the board. Luke Mailie followed with a single to draw Kentucky within two.
Kentucky’s defensive woes provided the Tigers with a run in the fourth without a single hit. Alex Edward walked on four pitches to lead off the inning, and third baseman Thomas McCarthy’s two errors, one fielding and one throwing, allowed Edward to cross home and make the score 5-2.
LSU scored without a hit again in the fifth.
Austin Nola was hit by a pitch, and he moved to second on a wild pitch and then scored when Paul McConkey’s relay on a double play bid skipped into the seats above the LSU dugout.
Pitching with a four run lead, Alsup (6-4) surrendered a second RBI double to Johnson, this time in the sixth. That ended Alsup’s afternoon after 5 2/3 innings and only 68 pitches.
Reliever Kevin Berry entered the game and surrendered a double to Luke Maile, scoring Johnson and cutting the lead back down to two.
“I thought if we could get them early it would get them back on their heels after the devastating loss on Thursday, and it worked, except we kind of let them back in the game,” Mainieri said.
Though the Tigers struggled to come up with the dagger, leaving six runners on base in the middle innings, Mikie Mahtook found it in the eighth.
The junior blasted a two-run home run into the seats in left field to erase any hope the Wildcats had mustered.
Matty Ott’s perfect ninth sealed LSU’s first sweep since Cal State Fullerton in mid-March.
“We can’t afford too many hiccups in the SEC,” Mahtook said. “Even though we won the series in the first two games, this game was just as important as the first two.”
Next up for the Tigers is a date with Tulane at Alex Box Stadium on Tuesday night.