Second baseman Tyler Hanover drove in four runs Friday night and right-hander Austin Ross pitched six solid innings to lead fourth-ranked LSU to a 6-2 win over Tennessee in Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
LSU improved to 18-3 overall, 3-1 in the SEC while Tennessee dropped to 11-11 and 0-4.
Hanover was 3-for-4 with a double and four RBI. LSU shortstop Austin Nola was 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI while leftfielder Trey Watkins tripled and drove in a run.
“Tyler Hanover is an outstanding hitter, and he certainly demonstrated that tonight,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He had some tough breaks early in the season and got off to a slow start, but he is swinging the bat extremely well right now.”
Ross (3-1) worked six innings for the win, limiting Tennessee to two runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
“I thought Austin gave us another very competitive effort that gave us a chance to win the game,” Mainieri said. “Our bullpen did a tremendous job as well in keeping Tennessee off the scoreboard late in the game.”
LSU relievers Jordan Rittiner, Paul Bertuccini and Matty Ott combined to blank the Vols over the final three innings.
Tennessee grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when second baseman Khayyan Norfork lifted a sacrifice fly to score DH Cody Stubbs, who led off the inning with a walk.
LSU rebounded with two runs in the top of the third as Watkins ripped an RBI triple and Hanover connected on a run-scoring single.
The Vols tied the game at 2-2 in the third when centerfielder P.J. Polk doubled and scored on first baseman Cody Hawn’s single.
The Tigers regained the lead in the fifth when Nola walked, moved to second on a bunt by third baseman Beau Didier and scored on Hanover’s single to left field.
LSU added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth as Nola delivered a run-scoring single and Hanover punctuated the inning with a two-RBI double.
The teams meet in Game 2 of the series at 2 p.m. CT Saturday. Sophomore left-hander Chris Matulis (3-0) will start for LSU while Tennessee will counter with senior right-hander Stephen McCray (2-2).