Tigers erupt for 11 runs

A five-run second inning was the spark LSU needed for an impressive 11-3 win against the No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.

The night started out shaky for the Tigers, as South Carolina (31-12, 11-8 ) took a 1-0 lead just two batters into the game. Another run in the second inning gave the Gamecocks a 2-0 lead before many fans had even settled into their seats.

“After two batters you’re already down,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I’ll tell you the kids never got down, that was the thing. You fall behind 2-0 and the team didn’t flinch.”

The Tigers (26-16, 7-11-1 ) took control in the bottom of the second inning.

The team got on the board when center fielder Leon Landry singled to right field, scoring first baseman Matt Clark. Left fielder (and Tiger wide receiver) Jared Mitchell added two more runs with a single that scored DJ LeMahieu and Landry.

The fireworks continued as third baseman Michael Hollander capped off the inning with a two-run home run that sailed deep over the left field wall, giving LSU a 5-2 lead.

LSU’s Blake Martin (2-3) got the win from the mound, going 8 and 1/3 innings. After allowing two runs in two innings, Martin recovered to hold the Gamecocks scoreless in innings three through nine. He finished the night allowing two runs on seven hits, walking five and striking out seven batters. The crowd at Alex Box gave the young hurler a standing ovation when he left.

“Blake really settled in. He pitched great,” Mainieri said. “I would have loved to see him finish the game, but he had 120 pitches going into the ninth inning.”

The Tiger offense was relentless after attaining the early lead. Clark knocked a two-run homer over  the right field wall to give LSU a 7-2 lead after three innings. The sixth inning saw a four-hit flurry that scored three runners, making the lead 10-2.

A Jared Mitchell solo home run, his second of the season, was the icing on the cake in the bottom of the eighth. As he watched the shot land in the left field stands Mitchell pumped his fist in celebration.

Every time the Gamecocks tried to rally, Martin was there to shut them down. The left-hander put away nine consecutive batters in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

LSU reliever Louis Coleman replaced Martin with two outs remaining and surrendered a solo home run to South Carolina’s Justin Smoak for the final 11-3 score line.

The win was big for LSU and for only the second time in a month the Tigers will take a 1-0 series lead into Saturday’s game.

“It’s nice to avoid a sweep that’s for sure,” Mainieri said. “If you look beyond your immediate challenges you’re foolish. We played well tonight … but South Carolina is going to show up tomorrow with the same stacked lineup that they have every day. They’re capable of turning around and doing to us tomorrow what we did to them today.”

Game two is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.



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