Dirks, triples decide Game One

Pitcher Clay Dirks gave the No. 16 LSU baseball team a three-run cushion through five innings, as the Tigers won the series opener against Tennessee Tech, 9-6, on Friday at Alex Box Stadium.

The teams return to Alex Box Stadium for game 2 of the weekend series on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT. The series finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday and will be broadcast on 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.

Members of the Geaux Zone powered by USAgencies can watch the game live on LSUsports.net, or listen to the audio-only broadcast.

LSU improved to 4-1 overall, while Tennessee Tech (0-1) lost its season opener.

Dirks (1-0) pitched five innings to earn the win, allowing two runs on three hits while tying a career-best with eight strikeouts. Chase Dardar earned the save with a scoreless ninth inning.

"I was going deep into the count, so my pitch count was up when I came out," Dirks said. "Bonura needs work nonetheless because he is going to be key for us. He needs to get that mound presence out there, so he needs quality innings before conference starts."

LSU finished with nine hits, including a school-record tying three triples that resulted in four runs. Tennessee Tech committed five of the game's seven errors, leading to three unearned runs.

Golden Eagles' starter Matt Kearney (0-1) took the loss after allowing five runs on three hits with three walks in two innings.

Tennessee Tech's Josh Goodwin led the way offensively, going 2-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI.

For the second time in as many games, LSU found itself behind early in the contest. In the top of the second, Tennessee Tech used a single, balk by Dirks and a double by Clint Alexander that scored Josh Goodwin from second.

LSU responded in the bottom of the inning, getting an RBI triple by Will Harris that scored Matt Liuzza to tie the game and an RBI single by Jordan Mayer to take a 2-1 lead. The at-bat was Mayer's first of the 2006 season after missing the first week of the season with a broken thumb.

With two outs, Tigers second baseman Jason Ogata beat the relay throw to break up a double play and Bruce Sprowl walked to setup a two-RBI triple by Michael Hollander. When Tennessee Tech second baseman Matt Mihoci over-threw third base, Hollander was allowed home plate for a 5-1 lead.

"Hollander -- that is how you make you outs," LSU head coach Smoke Laval said. "He hit three rockets for outs and was 1-for-4. Jordan Mayer looked good except for his final at-bat. He has changed things in his thought process."

The Golden Eagles took another run off Dirks in the top of the third on an RBI single by Steve Soper, cutting the LSU lead to 5-2.

LSU redshirt sophomore Michael Bonura entered in place of Dirks to start the top of the sixth, giving up a pair of runs but escaping the inning with the lead, 5-4.

The Tigers again answered in the bottom half, pegging two runs on Tennessee Tech reliever Patrick Miller. Mayer and Ogata each reached on singles and advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by Sprowl. With two outs, Hollander drove in Mayer with a hard-hit ground-ball out to second.

Quinn Stewart followed with the third LSU triple of the game to give the Tigers a 7-4 lead.

One inning later, Steven Waguespack singled up the middle and Liuzza walked to start the inning. Both later scored when Soper, the Golden Eagles' catcher, threw the ball over the head of Miller between pitches. With the two-run error, LSU led 9-4.

For the third time in as many innings, Bonura found himself in a jam in the top of the eighth. With runners on second and third with one out, Tennessee Tech designated hitter Daniel Owens got pinch-hitter Stuart Meinhart home on a ground-ball out before center fielder Kyle Rowekamp scampered home on a wild pitch. Tennessee Tech trailed, 9-6.

"Bonura, he needs mound presence," Laval said. "You can't go with him a whole lot right now. The real stuff is coming up soon. Maybe he will find it, maybe not. You can find it anytime, but he is going through what players do, like a sophomore jinx. You try to hard. That is what he is doing."

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