Wilson gives Tigers back-to-back shutouts

One would think it would be pretty hard for LSU to follow up Lane Mestepey's amazing complete game shutout of Arkansas in the first game of the weekend series. But Brian Wilson was up to the task, as the Tigers blanked the Razorbacks, 8-0, the first back-to-back shutouts for LSU since 1996.

The Tigers have now gone 22 2/3 innings without giving up a run.

It was the first shutout and the complete game of Wilson's career. The sophomore right-hander gave up only three hits, tied a career-high with eight strikeouts and walked four. Wilson continues to excel in his role as the Saturday starter, having allowed only three earned runs over the last three weeks.

"Starting is a lot less pressure," said Wilson. "You don't come in with the bases loaded. It's a lot easier to work your way out of something you got yourself into."

The Tigers (29-15, 11-8 Southeastern Conference) backed up Wilson, both at the plate and in the field where they committed no errors. The Tigers got out to an early lead and coasted.

Leadoff batter J.C. Holt hit a triple in the first, and was then promptly brought in by Aaron Hill's sacrifice fly ball. A two-run homerun by Chris Phillips to deep left-center field extended LSU's lead to 3-0, later in the third inning.

"I really didn't think that was going over," Phillips said. "I sprinted down to first and I looked up and I saw the outfielders going back like that and I was like ‘Wow.'"

The Tigers added one more run in the fourth off another sac fly by Aaron Hill that scored J.C. Holt. More runs came in the fourth. Blake Gill smashed a line drive that just barely cleared the first baseman's glove for a triple that scored Matt Heath from first for a 5-0 lead. Gill came in later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by David Raymer.

LSU tacked on two more runs in the eighth, and nearly had one more on a controversial play. Dustin Hahn's single brought Blake Gill around third and headed home. Razorback catcher Brady Toops was blocking the plate, and Gill smashed into him, even though the throw was not nearly in time. After the umpires put their heads together, Gill was called out for the collision, which was deemed interference, and Hahn was forced back to first base after he advanced to second when the catcher was knocked down.

It made little difference however, as Phillips drove in two more runs with a single.

Phillips led the Tigers at the plate, going 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs. He now has 27 on the year, to go with six home runs.

Although he turned perhaps LSU's strongest pitching performance this year, Wilson still saw room for improvement.

"Besides those walks, I guess it was pretty pleasing," Wilson said. "I guess it was pretty consistent. 

"I wanted to go nine (innings), so I went nine.  Lane got through nine (last night) so I had to try and beat him."

"Wilson and our defense up the middle. That was the name of the ball game," said LSU head coach Smoke Laval. "I guess we got the gorillas on the mound now."

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