An eight-run LSU second inning along with homers by designated hitter Matt Gaudet, second baseman Tyler Hanover and right fielder Mikie Mahtook lifted the top-ranked Tigers to a 13-7 victory over Brown Friday night in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU (9-0) has won nine straight games to start the season for the second year in a row. Brown falls to 1-1 with the loss.
Junior right-hander Austin Ross (2-0) earned the win for LSU after throwing 5.1 innings where he allowed five runs on seven hits while striking out two. Brown starter Will Weidig (0-1) was credited with the loss as he allowed eight runs on nine hits in 3.1 innings of work.
“We had a great second inning with several quality at-bats and clutch hits, and then we may have lost our focus a little bit,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I watched Brown in their first game against Pepperdine, and I knew they weren’t going to give up. They have some very good hitters on their team and they kept battling.”
LSU catcher Micah Gibbs led the Tigers’ 16-hit performance, going 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Centerfielder Leon Landry also helped the Tigers offensively, as he finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored.
The eight-run second inning began when Landry made the score 1-0 when he trotted home from third on a called balk by Brown starter Will Weidig. Two pitches later in the same at-bat, Gaudet launched a solo homer to left-center to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. The dinger was Gaudet’s fifth of the season.
The Tigers then strung together four-straight hits with two outs, beginning when shortstop Austin Nola ripped a two-out single to right, scoring Wet Delatte from third base to put LSU up 3-0. After first baseman Blake Dean laced a single to right, Gibbs doubled down the line in right to plate Nola and Dean and put the Tigers ahead 5-0.
LSU’s fourth-straight hit of the inning came off a two-run homer by Hanover to give the Tigers a 7-0 advantage. The homer was Hanover’s first of the season. The next batter, Landry, walked and then scored on a double by Mahtook to put LSU up 8-0.
The Bears cut the deficit to 8-2 in the fifth inning when shortstop Graham Tyler singled down the right-field line plating two Brown runners.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the frame when left fielder Trey Watkins doubled to lead off the inning and later scored on a single by Dean making the score 9-2 in favor of LSU. Gibbs followed with a single and later scored with Dean when Landry laced a ball to left that went between the legs of Brown left fielder Daniel Rosoff and rolled to the wall allowing Landry to score as well. The single and RBI by Landry, and the two runs that resulted from Rosoff’s error made the score 12-2 in favor of LSU.
In the top of the sixth, Brown third baseman Ryan Zrenda blasted a two-run homer to left-center that highlighted a three-run sixth inning for the Bears, cutting the deficit to 12-5.
Ross left the game after getting one out, giving way to freshman left-hander Forrest Garrett. The Norcross, Ga., native, making his first appearance as a Tiger, fired two strikeouts to end the Bears’ threat in the inning.
The Tigers increased their lead to 13-6 in the eighth when Mahtook led off the inning with a solo homer to left. The homer was Mahtook’s first of the season.
Freshman left-hander Chris Cotton closed out the game for the Tigers, going 2.2 innings and allowing one run while striking out three.
“It’s great when you can bring in a reliever to throw strikes, and that’s exactly what Cotton did,” Mainieri said. “I thought his outing played a large role in the win, and it also allowed us to have more pitchers available for the rest of the weekend.”
The Tigers will face off against Pepperdine Saturday at 7 p.m. The Waves (3-6) dropped an 8-7 decision to Brown earlier Friday and will meet the Bears again at 2 p.m., before playing LSU in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader. The Tigers will send sophomore right-hander Joey Bourgeois (1-0, 3.48 ERA) to the mound, while Pepperdine will counter with junior left-hander Matt Bywater (1-0, 0.64 ERA).