Led by a two-homer performance by designated hitter Matt Gaudet and a six-RBI evening by first baseman Blake Dean, second-ranked LSU exploded for 23 hits en route to 25-8 victory over Centenary, giving head coach Paul Mainieri his 1,000th career victory Saturday night in Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (2-0) scored the most runs of any LSU team since 1999 when they defeated Ohio 26-5. Centenary dropped to 0-2 with Saturday’s loss.
The LSU bats were on fire Saturday, led by a 4-for-5 performance by Dean and 3-for-5 outing for Gaudet. The pair combined for 10 RBI, including six by Dean, which tied a career-high that he set against Alabama at the SEC Tournament in 2008.
Also contributing to the LSU barrage were Mikie Mahtook, Wet Delatte, Tyler Hanover, Trey Watkins and Austin Nola. Each had two hits apiece and combined to score 10 runs.
The winning pitcher was LSU starter Austin Ross (1-0), who went 5 innings, allowing no runs on three hits while walking none and striking out five.
“I could tell in our pregame warm-ups that we were much more focused and ready to play than we were in our season opener,” Mainieri said. “I thought we swung the bats extremely well and Austin Ross gave us a superb performance.”
Of his milestone victory Mainieri said, “Of course it’s something I’m very proud of, but a lot of players and assistant coaches contributed to those 1,000 wins. I’ve been very fortunate to coach a lot of great kids at some great institutions.”
Mainieri’s 28-year coaching career includes stops at St. Thomas University in Miami (1983-88), Air Force (1989-94), Notre Dame (1995-2006) and LSU (2007-present).
LSU got on the board in the first Saturday when Dean singled up the middle to score Watkins, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 advantage. Watkins led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third on a hit-and-run, compliments of a Nola single.
The next batter, Hanover, reached first on a fielder’s choice, loading the bases. After a fly out by Micah Gibbs, Leon Landry reached safely when Gents shortstop Alex Todd mishandled a high fly ball in center field, allowing Nola to score from first. The Tigers led 2-0 at that point.
Mahtook followed with a deep liner in the right-center field gap that cleared the bases and gave the Tigers a 5-0 lead. Gaudet followed with a two-run homer to left to put LSU ahead 7-0.
The Tigers continued the scoring in the third when Mahtook singled, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Watkins to give LSU a 8-0 lead.
With the bases loaded two batters later, Dean laced a single up the middle that scored Delatte and Watkins to put the Tigers up 10-0.
LSU went ahead 12-0 when Landry ripped a two-out double to right-center, scoring Dean and Hanover.
Gaudet blasted his second homer to lead off the fourth inning against reliever Seth Lugo. The solo dinger made the score 13-0. Watkins was hit by a pitch two batters later, reached third on a single by Nola and scored on a sacrifice fly by Dean to give LSU a 14-0 advantage.
Dean ripped his fifth RBI of the evening in the fifth inning on a single up the middle, giving the Tigers a 16-0 lead.
Centenary first baseman Tell Ross put the Gents on the board in the sixth inning when he smashed a three-run homer off freshman right-hander Michael Reed. LSU led 16-3 at that point.
In the sixth inning, the Tigers erupted for six more runs, highlighted by RBI’s by Watkins and Hanover, to make the score 22-3.
Centenary added three runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by an RBI triple by second baseman Scott Pasket.
The Tigers made the score 25-7 in the eighth when center fielder Johnny Dishon ripped a two-run homer to left.
The loss was charged to Centenary starter Justin Kraft (0-1), who worked one inning and allowed seven runs on five hits.
The series will conclude Sunday at 1 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium. LSU will start sophomore right-hander Joey Bourgeois, a transfer from LSU-Eunice making his first start as a Tiger. The Gents will counter with right-hander David Benson.