Big hits at the right time

Ty Ross' two bases-loaded hits and 5 RBIs spark LSU to a 16-3 rout of the Big Green.

One day of Mason Katz gave the Dartmouth baseball team a pretty clear idea of just how dangerous he can be in the batter’s box.


So the LSU first baseman’s two hits and three RBIs Saturday weren’t exactly a jolt of surprise to the Big Green.


As damaging as Katz continued to be – despite just missing a chance to tie a national record – he had to play second fiddle in the 13th-ranked Tigers’ 16-3 romp at Alex Box Stadium.


The starring roles in this blowout were shared by sophomores Ty Ross and Ryan Eades as LSU (9-2) won its fourth straight game.

Ryan Eades: Logged 6 solid innings for his second win of the season.


Ross twice came through with the bases loaded, whacking a bases-clearing three-run double in the fourth inning and a two-run single when the Tigers blew the game open with an eight-run sixth.


Eades claimed his second victory in three starts, scattering five hits in six innings against a pesky Big Green (0-2).


Katz certainly chimed in, pumping his second home run in as many days on the at-bat after his school-record streak of reaching base safely ended at 17 when he struck out in the first inning. He added a two-out, two-run double in the sixth, part of the Tigers’ 15-hit onslaught.


And Austin Nola had his best offensive day of the season with two doubles, a single and three runs scored.


It was Ross who broke Dartmouth’s backs, though.


Mason Katz: Homered for the second straight day and drove in three runs with two hits.

After three scoreless frames, Katz put LSU in front 1-0 when he jacked a full-count offering from Big Green starter Mitch Horacek through a bristling wind into the left-field seats with one out.


Raph Rhymes pounced on Horacek’s next pitch and jerked it to left-center field for a double. Nola walked and Horacek coaxed Tyler Hanover into a foul pop to first baseman Ennis Coble.


The Tigers caught a break when Jackson Slaid’s dribbler stayed fair down the third-base line for a single to load the bases. Ross stepped in and blistered the first pitch he saw like a laser that landed just inside right-field line to clear the bases and give LSU a 4-0 cushion.


“I love big situations and this year with my newfound confidence, I’ve definitely felt comfortable up there and been ready to help the team,” said Ross, who has bumped his average to .393 with five hits in the series. “I’m getting my foot down early and letting my hands work – just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere.”


There was plenty of hitting the ball hard in the sixth inning when LSU removed any doubt.


The Big Green produced the only run it got off Eades in the top of the sixth when Jeff Keller banged his team’s third single of the inning with two outs to score Thomas Roulis.


With their lead reduced to 4-1, the Tigers came out aggressive with Nola pumping a leadoff double to left field. Hanover laid down a bunt that Dartmouth’s defense botched and Slaid walked to fill up the bases again for Ross.


With another solid cut when he went the other way with the pitch, Ross delivered, tagging a 1-and-1 pitch to right-center field for two more runs.

Ty Ross: Delivered two clutch hits with the bases loaded to drive in 5 runs.


“I think he’s become one our most clutch hitters,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.


The Tigers were nowhere close to done. Nine-hole hitter Chris Sciambra laid down a squeeze bunt to score Slaid and the ball eluded Horacek for an error. That was Horacek’s last batter, and reliever Mike Dodakian retired the first two hitters.


But Katz added fuel to the fire when he slapped a line drive to left field to plate Ross and Sciambra. Nola drove in a run with a base hit and Hanover finished off the huge inning with a two-run double.


“We have a lot of guys in our lineup who can come through, but Ross is a guy who’s really made a big jump this year,” Nola said. “That’s a big plus for us when you see a guy who has grown up so much as a player that quickly. He’s driving the ball the other way with runners in scoring position, and that’s really going to help his confidence.”


Eades’ confidence got a boost as well.


Not only did he log a third consecutive quality start, the righty got some run support – a major difference from the previous Saturday when LSU lost 1-0 to Appalachian State despite a stellar performance by Eades.


His night was over after the sixth, but the four-run fourth gave Eades plenty of cushion to work with.


After cruising through the first four innings and allowing only one hit, Eades encountered some trouble in the fifth when Keller reached on an error to begin the at-bat and Matt Robinson dumped a one-out single to right field.


Like he had the inning before with a runner at third base, Eades escaped trouble by striking out Chad Piersma and inducing a groundout to second base from Jake Carlson.


Keller’s RBI single in the sixth was the only time the Green got to Eades with a runner in scoring position in six tries.


“I just working ahead, changing speeds and locating – keeping them off balance,” said Eades (2-1), who fanned five and has 18 Ks for the season. He didn’t walk a batter and has issued only three in18 innings.


“Situations like (the fifth) are going to come up in every game, and you have to be able to work out of that.”


He did so, and drew Mainieri’s praise afterward.


“Guys like Eades raise their game to make a big pitch and he did that several times (Saturday),” Mainieri said.


The two teams wrap up the series Sunday with an 11 a.m. first pitch. Kurt McCune will take the mound for the Tigers against Dartmouth senior Michael Johnson.

SERIES UPDATE: LSU 16, Dartmouth 3


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