The shot heard round Baton Rouge Friday night belonged to Austin Nola, but a swing four pitches into the night for the LSU offense was just as important – both to as a contribution to the Tigers’ 6-5 win and perhaps to the rest of the season.
Sophomore second baseman JaCoby Jones hammered a 1-and-2 pitch from Georgia pitcher Alex Wood for a solo home run to open the LSU first inning, his second long fly of the season and first at Alex Box Stadium.
That Jones launched one is not a huge surprise. He’s had home run power from the day he stepped on campus and is as talented as any player on the Tigers’ roster.
But this season has been an offensive struggle for the most part, so seeing Jones yank the ball out of the park was a good sign – especially when he was down in the count. Over the last several weeks, Jones has fallen into the habit of watching a third strike go by, particularly if a pitcher has an effective curve ball.
Change of pace
|Chris Cotton: Improved his record to 4-0 with two shutout innings in relief|
That role was on center stage Friday when Cotton notched two scoreless frames to quiet the Georgia bats after the Bulldogs peppered Gausman for 10 hits in six innings.
The key difference between Gausman and Cotton – besides the obvious fact that he comes from the left side – is a difference in velocity. Gausman is consistently in the mid- to upper-90 mph range while Cotton flirts with 88-89 when he really reaches deep.
Cotton stays around the strike zone with almost every pitch, though, and is a master at getting hitters of-balance.
“I don’t mind them making contact because I’m not giving them the same kind of velocity Gausman does,” said Cotton, whose relief win Friday improved his record to 4-0. “They hit it a lot harder against me, but my defense has helped me out all year.”
Around the horn
LSU’s victory Friday improved the Tigers’ SEC record to 13-6, which equals their league win total from last season and is just one fewer than they had in 2010. It was also the 34th overall win, two fewer than all of last season.
Friday was the sixth game this season when LSU has gotten multiple homers in a game, the third in SEC play. Of the Tigers’ 23 homers, 11 have come in league play.
Rhymes’ 3 hits Friday give him 24 multi-hit games this season (39 played) and 12 with 3 or more. Since coming back nine games ago after missing three games with a concussion, Rhymes is 21-for-33 (.636) with seven multi-hit games.