Jared Poché tossed six scoreless innings, while the Kade Scivicque produced most of the LSU offense with a three-run homer in the second inning. The Tigers haven’t lost a season opener since 2001.
"It was a really good, solid victory against a very fine ballclub tonight," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "Obviously the story of the game was our pitching, our defense and we had about four really clutch hits early in the game."
Poché made quite the debut as the new ace of LSU’s rotation. He didn’t allow a runner into scoring position through his six innings of work. He struck out five and retired eight straight at one point.
He only allowed two hits, both singles by 2B Colby Wright. The only semblance of trouble he faced came in the fifth when he issued a one-out walk on four pitches. But Poché forced a pair of fielder’s choice groundouts to end that inning.
He also got some help from a handful of nice plays by his defense. Kramer Robertson made a sliding play on a grounder in the first, then made a diving catch on a line drive second. Danny Zardon also made a diving stop on a grounder with a strong throw in the fourth.
Poché won nine games as a freshman in 2014, and now he’s got his first of the new year.
"It was a great feeling to pitch on Friday night," Poché said. "I really can’t describe it. It is good to get this first win out of the way and just focus on the rest of the season."
LSU only produced six hits Friday, but the Tigers only needed one big one to get past the Jayhawks.
Chris Chinea got it started with a two-strike single to leadoff the second inning. An errant pickoff attempt moved him into scoring position. Andrew Stevenson moved him to third with a single to center (Stevenson advanced to second on the throw home).
Scivicque drove them both home with a no-doubter into the left field bleachers for LSU’s first homer of the season.
"Quite frankly, first game of the year, it always helps when you get a lead," Mainieri said. "It relaxes everybody a little bit. They don't press, and they're able to play well. That home run really allowed our team to relax tonight."
The Tigers would add one more in the third. Mark Laird walked to start the inning and stole second. After a pair of pop flies by Alex Bregman and Conner Hale, Chinea brought in the run with a single to center.
That was enough to get the win, but LSU only had two more hits the rest of the game.
"I know tomorrow we'll come out and swing the bats with more authority and more confidence," Mainieri said.
Sidewinder Collin Strall — a junior college transfer — replaced Poché to start the seventh inning. His unique delivery left the Kansas hitters fooled, as he struck out a pair in his LSU debut.
Zac Person came in the eighth and did surrender the lone Kansas run. He walked 3B Matt McLaughlin with two outs, and CF Joven Afenir followed him two batters later with an RBI-double to left center. Person got Wright to pop out and end the inning.
Jesse Stallings made his debut as LSU’s closer, surrendering a leadoff double in the ninth. He struck out the next three batters to earn the save in his first career appearance.
"It felt great," Stalling said of making his debut after sitting out his entire freshman season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. "I wouldn't have had it any other way. It was beautiful."
LSU will aim to clinch the series Saturday at 2 p.m. Freshman Alex Lange will take the mound for the first time.