No. 4 LSU extended its winning streak to eight games Tuesday with a 7-1 victory against Stephen F. Austin at Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers only totaled nine hits but took advantage of seven walks, two hit-by-pitches, two wild pitches and three errors. The LSU pitching staff limited SFA to only five hits, and the Tigers played errorless defense to record the win.
LSU jumped out to an early lead with a run in each of the first two innings.
Mark Laird got it started with a one-out single in the first. He advanced to second on a groundout, stole third and came in to score on a RBI-single by Chris Chinea.
Danny Zardon made it 2-0 with a solo homer to lead off the second, his second deep ball of the season.
“That was a bomb,” Mainieri said. “It went way out of the park, even over the bleachers. You could tell that ball sounded different when it came off the bat.”
Meanwhile, Kyle Bouman held SFA scoreless through four innings while auditioning to take over the midweek role. He struck out a career-high seven batters but ran into trouble in the fifth and finished with a no decision.
He allowed a leadoff, infield single to 1B Dan O’Neill. 2B Hunter Wilson followed that with an RBI-triple into the right field corner. Bouman walked the next batter and that ended his night.
LSU opted to go with freshmen in the rotation to start the year, so this was Bouman’s first start of the season. Mainieri found plenty of positives in his performance despite that rough fifth inning.
“I told him there’s going to be a time when he’ll come back and get a start and develop,” Mainieri said. “I thought he threw the ball really well tonight, as well as he has in a long time.”
Hunter Newman replaced Bouman, entering with runners on the corners and nobody out. He retired the next three batters in order, all pop outs, to escape the jam.
That started a string of 10 straight batters retired by LSU relievers. The Tiger bullpen allowed only one hit and no runs through the final five innings.
The combined ERA of LSU’s relievers is now 2.72 through 12 games.
“The key to the game was the job Newman did,” Mainieri said. “That was a pivotal part of the game, and Newman was just the first of an outstanding bullpen performance by our guys.”
LSU blew open a 2-1 game, scoring at least one run in each of the final four offensive innings.
Conner Hale drove in one with an RBI-double in the fifth. Another scored on a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded in the sixth.
The Tigers tacked on three in the seventh. Andrew Stevenson walked to start the inning, and Zardon singled behind him. Mike Papierski’s ground-out to second scored a run. Another scored on a wild pitch, and Laird drove in the third with a single to center.
LSU made it 8-1 in the eighth with an RBI-double by Stevenson.
The Tigers have another midweek game Wednesday at 3 p.m. against Grambling. LSU will then head to Houston on Thursday for the Houston College Classic, where they’ll play Houston, Nebraska and Baylor.
LSU handles SFA in 8-1 victory
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