A three-run homer by designated hitter Matt Gaudet, along with six shutout innings by the Tigers’ pitching staff lifted No. 3 LSU to a 10-3 victory over Nicholls State Wednesday night in Alex Box Stadium.
Nicholls State dropped to 11-5 with the loss, which was only their second defeat in their last 13 games. LSU improved to 14-2 on the year.
The win was career victory No. 1,012 for LSU coach Paul Mainieri in his 28 collegiate seasons, tying his father, Demie Mainieri, who compiled 1,012 victories during a distinguished career at Miami-Dade North Community College.
“It’s a very emotional night for me,” Paul Mainieri said. “My dad is someone I idolized my entire life, and to equal his number of coaching victories is very special. I can’t wait to call him and talk about the game tonight.”
The winning pitcher for the Tigers Wednesday was junior right-hander Daniel Bradshaw (3-0) who pitched two innings of relief, allowing one run on two hits with a strikeout. Nicholls State starter Ryan Cooper (2-1) was charged with the loss after allowing five runs on five hits in four innings of work.
“I thought all of our pitchers threw well tonight, and I was very pleased to see Matt Gaudet swing the bat the way he did,” Mainieri said. “I told the team after the game that all of us need to be at our best this weekend because we are facing a very well-coached Arkansas team.”
The LSU offense was led by Gaudet’s three RBI, as well as a 2-for-3 performance by centerfielder Leon Landry and a pair of hits and an RBI by second baseman Tyler Hanover.
The Colonels took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when designated hitter Keith Kulbeth lifted a solo homer to right. The homer was Kulbeth’s second of the season.
LSU tied the score in the second when Landry belted a solo homer off the right-field foul pole. Landry’s second dinger of the season evened the score at 1-1.
After Nicholls added a run in the top of the fourth off a fielder’s choice, the Tigers erupted in the bottom of the frame with an RBI-single by Tyler Hanover and a three-run homer by Gaudet to jump out to a 5-2 lead. The homer was Gaudet’s sixth of the season.
After plating two more runs in the fifth, the Tigers added two more in the eighth, highlighted by an RBI single by Trey Watkins. Watkins later crossed for LSU’s 10th run of the game when Blake Dean reached base safely on a fielder’s choice.
The Colonels added a run in the top of the ninth on a solo dinger by left fielder Adam Miley to account for the final margin.
The Tigers will open conference play Friday when they host SEC rival Arkansas in a three-game series beginning at 7 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.
Friday’s game will be LSU’s first televised game of the season and will air on Cox Sports Television (Cox cable channel 37 in Baton Rouge). LSU defeated Arkansas four times last season, including twice in the College World Series.