There will inevitably be hiccups for the LSU baseball team, days when pitchers don’t pitch so well and when clutch hits are a challenge.
For the first two days of the 2012 season, though, not a whole lot has gone wrong.
The Tigers romped past Alcorn State 19-0 Saturday at Alex Box Stadium as Ryan Eades gave them another dominant start from the mound, the bullpen notched four more scoreless innings and LSU’s offense piled up 14 hits.
The all-around package Saturday was a noticeable step forward from a 10-2 win against Air Force in the season opener when LSU scored nine early runs and coasted after that.
|Ryan Eades: Allows only one hit and strikes out 8 in 5 innings|
“We looked like a much more relaxed team (Saturday),” Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said. “(Friday) night, I think we had to work through some first-game jitters, but (Saturday) I thought we played with a lot of energy and confidence.”
And it didn’t take long for the energy to show up.
As was the case in the season opener, LSU (2-0) wasted no time revving up the offense with five runs in the first two frames.
Any lingering doubt was obliterated when LSU erupted for six more in the third – the key blow coming from cleanup hitter Mason Katz when he rifled a bases-clearing triple inside the third-base bag.
That was Katz’s first hit of the season and gave him four RBIs, which matches a career-best.
“Bad at-bats,” Katz said of his rocky start, which included a pair of strikeouts with the bases loaded. “I was anxious – over-striding and trying to swing too hard. Opening-night stuff. I just tried to calm down, took a couple of deep breaths and finally got into it, got the money off my back.”
The hit also came after the Tigers flirted with squandering a chance for a big inning when Tyler Hanover and Casey Yocom failed to produce runs with the bases loaded and no outs. Raph Rhymes walked to force in a run before Katz ripped a 1-0 offering from Braves’ starter Troy Williams into the left-field bullpen.
JaCoby Jones dumped a single to left field, his second straight RBI single for an 11-0 cushion.
The heart of the LSU batting order – Rhymes, Katz and Jones – combined to go 4-for-6 with eight RBIs in the first three frames.
“There were really some good at-bats early in the game and that’s what we need to do,” Mainieri said.
“We had a couple of good hit-and-runs got some good clutch hits.”
There were plenty of offensive highlights to go around.
Ty Ross: Back-to-back 2-hit games to start the seasonBeau Didier mashed LSU’s first home run of the season.
Ty Ross cracked two hits for the second night in a row and is 4-for-7 this season.
Alcorn’s pitchers made sure there were plenty of opportunities for LSU to generate runs. The Braves walked six and hit six others, and the Tigers didn’t go down in order until the eighth inning.
“We’re going to have to draw some walks,” Mainieri said. “When you’re not a power-hitting team, base runners are key and then you have to find ways to drive them in.”
The Tigers’ busy bats might’ve stolen the thunder Saturday, but Eades made any damage unnecessary after the first inning by twisting Alcorn’s hitters in knots for five innings.
He struck out the first four batters on the way to a career-best eight strikeouts, allowed only one hit and shrugged off two hit batsman and a two-out walk to keep the Braves handcuffed.
After dominating with velocity early, Eades changed direction the second time through the lineup and expanded his repertoire.
Alcorn only advanced one base runner to second base against Eades, who made sure that was far enough when he fanned Alvin Jackson and Joshua Powell – both for the second time in as many at-bats. Those were the only two chances the Braves got with a runner in scoring position against Eades.
“They started hitting the ball a little bit and made me work on some other pitches,” he said. “I threw my changeup a little more and had guys out in front.”
|Chris Cotton set Alcorn State down in order in his season debut|
Over the final four frames, Alcorn had a little more success against the LSU bullpen, but not enough to dent the scoreboard. Joe Broussard logged two eventful but scoreless frames, Chris Cotton was perfect against three Braves in the eighth and Nick Rumbelow worked out a minor jam when he surrendered a leadoff single and walked the next hitter.
The three relievers fanned seven hitters in four innings as Alcorn struck out 15 times in 31 at-bats.
The Tigers go for a season-opening sweep Sunday when they get back to work against Air Force at 2 p.m. The Falcons (0-2) will face Alcorn State (1-1) at 10 a.m.