LSU downs Ole Miss, 6-4, in SEC opener

LSU had to fend off Ole Miss to get a 6-4 victory Friday night, but the Tigers held on for their first win of the SEC schedule

No. 3 LSU fought off Ole Miss to win the SEC opener Friday, 6-4, at Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers (17-1, 1-0 SEC) jumped out to a 4-0 lead but held off a couple Rebel rallies to secure the win. Ole Miss (9-8, 0-1) had the game-tying run at the plate in the ninth, but Jesse Stallings completed his eighth save of the season, while Jared Poché earned his fifth win.

LSU has now won 14 straight.

“It’s hard to win college baseball games,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I know we’re used to winning around here, and sometimes they make it look easy, but every time you win one, especially in this league, we’re so happy to put it in the correct column.”

LSU went ahead with a run in the third off Ole Miss starter Christian Trent, who was dismissed from LSU after his freshman season in 2012.

Andrew Stevenson and Jared Foster singled in consecutive at-bats, and Stevenson singled to put runners on the corners. Danny Zardon sent a grounder to first, and Ole Miss managed to turn two, but the run also came into score.

LSU blew open that one-run lead in the next inning. Mark Laird led it off with a single to left, and Alex Bregman reached on an error. Chris Chinea grounded out and advanced both runners into scoring position.

Conner Hale followed that with a double that landed just inside the right field line, scoring both Laird and Bregman. Hale would come into score on an RBI-single by Stevenson, making it 4-0 in the fourth.

LSU would get two more off Trent in the sixth. Bregman led off the inning with a solo homer, his second in as many games and fourth on the year. Hale got his third hit of the game with a two-out single, and Kade Scivicque singled to put runners on the corners.

Hale scored on a wild pitch.

Trent allowed six runs on nine hits in seven innings with three strikeouts, suffering his first defeat as a Rebel.

“We had a great approach against him,” Mainieri said. “We got six runs off him in seven innings, and typically that’s enough to win.”

Ole Miss didn’t go down quietly though and made Poché work for his win. The Rebels saw 27 pitches in the first inning despite sending just four players to the plate. That contributed to Poché’s early exit after just five innings.

“They forced him to throw so many pitches that he just ran out of gas,” Mainieri said. “You could see he was really laboring.“

Poché would throw four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth.

He surrendered three consecutive one-out hits, capped off by a two-run single from LF Kyle Watson that made it 4-2 at the time.

Poché came out after giving up a leadoff single in the sixth, reaching the 98-pitch mark in a little more than five innings of work. He limited Ole Miss to just two runs on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks.

“That’s never the game plan going in,” Poché said of his early exit. “But things happen like that in baseball. I’m just grateful the bullpen came in and was able to close the game out.”

Alden Cartwright replaced him with one out in the sixth and retired three of the first four batters he faced to end the inning. He gave up a single in the eighth before giving way to Hunter Devall, who surrendered a two-run homer to J.B. Woodman that made it 6-4 in the seventh.

That was the last Ole Miss would get though, as Collin Strall, Zac Person and Jesse Stallings combined to close out the final 2 2/3 innings. Stallings earned the save with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth, touching 95 mph with his fastball.

“It was crazy,” Stallings said of the atmosphere. “There were tons of fans here, and that got me really riled up.”

LSU will attempt to clinch the series Saturday night against Ole Miss at 7 p.m. Alex Lange will make his SEC debut on the mound against Ole Miss RHP Brady Bramlett.

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