FINAL: LSU 10, Alabama 2
Katz, Nola big flies launch Tigers to lopsided victory
Throughout the season, LSU head coach Paul Mainieri has been searching for speed at the top of his lineup.
The skipper may have finally found it Friday in the form of JaCoby Jones and Arby Fields, and it was apparent right from the get-go on the second at-bat of the game.
Jones got plunked on the arm to begin the bottom of the first. Then Mainieri put on the hit and run with Fields at the plate. Fields grounded it to second, but the Crimson Tide were unable to get an out on the play thanks to the speed of the pair on the basepaths.
But of course speed can only get you so far. You still need those big boppers in the middle of the lineup to get that speed home, and three-hole hitter Mason Katz immediately followed suit with the first of two Tiger big flies on the evening.
“Instead of two outs and nobody on, we have two on and nobody out, and it sets the tone for Katz’s three run homer which was obviously a great swing in its own right,” Mainieri said.
Katz’s three-run round-tripper took a lead away from Alabama that the Tigers would never relinquish (Alabama’s Brett Booth had previously singled Taylor Dugas home after the Lafayette native opened the contest with a leadoff triple).
Speed was the difference between a three-run bomb and a solo shot.
But that wasn’t the only time in the game speed put/kept the Tigers on top. After Alabama had narrowed the deficit to 3-2 in the top of the third inning, Fields tracked down a fly ball in deep left center that would have tied the contest at the very least.
From that point forward, LSU starting pitcher Kevin Gausman was nothing short of dominant. He had allowed two runs, four hits and had just one strikeout through three innings. The winning pitcher would go on to pitch five more frames - all scoreless - and get stronger as the game went on, surrendering just three more hits and finishing with seven K’s on the night. In fact, Gausman retired the last seven batters he faced, five by way of the K.
“Early on in the game, I think I was trying to be too perfect,” Gausman said. “I was trying to make my stuff hit a dime in the glove. I just have to be able to trust my stuff and let it go… I think I just settled in and started to trust my stuff.”
As it turned out, however, LSU didn’t necessarily need Gausman to find his dominance thanks to a six-spot in the bottom of the fourth inning to put the game away. Fields singled Ty Ross home. Then Raph Rhymes took a bases loaded walk in his return from a concussion (Rhymes was 1-for-2 with two RBIs). Then, the game officially got out of hand on one crack of the bat - a grand slam for Austin Nola’s first home run of the season.
“He threw a changeup, and I got a good swing on it down,” Nola explained. “I kinda got a little in front of it, but the Alex Box wind kinda blew it out.”
Those six runs in the fourth were the last runs LSU scored tonight - making the victory seem eerily similar to last season’s lopsided Friday night win over Alabama in which LSU failed to score in the final four innings before promptly being shut out Saturday and Sunday.
The Tigers will come out determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself the rest of this weekend.
“We’re going to come out with a good approach and not get sidetracked by this game,” Nola said. “We’re going to put this one behind us and look ahead to tomorrow.”
They’ll get their shot in Game Two of the series Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Ryan Eades will dual against lefty Justin Kamplain.
LSU: 10 runs, 9 hits, 0 errors
Bama: 2 runs, 6 hits, 0 errors
Below is Richard Fischer’s game blog in chronological order.
Good evening and welcome to the Box for a beautiful spring night as the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide are set to begin a three-game series.
It’s first in the West versus last in the West. The squad from T-Town is 4-8 in SEC play, and they’re fresh off of a sweep of bitter rival Auburn last weekend. They would be riding a winning streak had UAB not taken it to them 9-1 earlier this week.
Trey Pilkington will take the ball for Alabama tonight. He’s 1-2 in three starts and 11 appearances this season with a 3.51 ERA. He has struck out 20 batters compared to just four walks, but 30 hits allowed in 25.2 innings pitched is a bit troubling.
His opponent on the rubber will of course be Kevin Gausman, who has been as dominant as expected in 2012 even though he comes off his first loss of the season last weekend at Florida. The sophomore is 5-1 on the year with a 2.83 ERA. He’s got a whopping 70 K’s.
Raph Rhymes was the first Tiger out onto the field to begin playing catch about an hour before the start of the game. He’s in the starting lineup at DH and will bat cleanup. He is recovering from a concussion suffered at Florida one week ago today, and he has missed LSU’s three games since.
The wind is blowing moderately out toward the scoreboard in left field, and it should be a picture perfect night for baseball. Gausman’s first pitch will be at 7 p.m.
Alabama (13-20, 4-8)
1. Taylor Dugas CF .347
2. Brett Booth C .231
3. Jared Reaves SS .328
4. Ben Moore RF .361
5. Austin Smith DH .220
6. Jon Kelton 1B .213
7. Kenny Roberts 2B .202
8. James Tullidge 3B .344
9. Hunter Gregory LF .267
SP- Trey Pilkington RHP (1-2, 3.51ERA, 25.2IP, 30H, 15R, 10ER, 4BB, 20K, OPP BA- .283)
LSU (27-7, 8-4)
1. JaCoby Jones 2B .265
2. Arby Fields CF .219
3. Mason Katz RF .350
4. Raph Rhymes DH .465
5. Austin Nola SS .303
6. Tyler Moore 1B .310
7. Ty Ross C .320
8. Tyler Hanover 3B .297
9. Grant Dozar LF .288
SP- Kevin Gausman RHP (5-1, 2.83ERA, 54IP, 44H, 19R, 17ER, 17BB, 70K, OPP BA- .218)
Top of the First:
Gausman’s first pitch is a fastball for a strike at 7:01… Dugas triples to right center to leadoff the game… Not wasting any time as the infield comes in, and Booth lobs it over second for a base hit. Had Jones been back he probably could have made a play on it. Dugas scores… Reaves rolls to Hanover, who starts a 5-4-3 double play. Two down… Ben Moore lines out to Katz… One run. Two hits. No errors. None left on base…. Alabama 1, LSU 0
Bottom of the First:
Jones gets plunked on the arm and takes first… Jones goes on the pitch, and it’s a good thing he does because a sure double play turns into no outs. Jones just beats the flip to second, and Reaves’ throw to first is high, pulling Kelton off the bag and allowing Fields to be safe. It sure looked like Kelton’s foot on the way down barely beat Fields’ foot to the bag, but LSU will take the home cookin’… And it matters because BOOM. The next pitch is crushed over the left field seats by Katz, his seventh HR of the year. That one was halfway to the football facility… Rhymes flies out to left center… Nola fouls out by first… Tyler Moore grounds out back to the mound… Three runs. One hit. No errors. None left on base…. LSU 3, Alabama 1
Top of the Second:
Smith is frozen on a fastball on the outside edge. One down… Kelton golfs it to center, where Fields moves in and makes a nice diving play for the second out… Roberts three-hops Nola, and it’s a quick second frame for Gausman… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base…. LSU 3, Alabama 1
Bottom of the Second:
Ross bounces out to third. One gone… Hanover singles to left… Hanover swipes second without a throw due to a pitch in the dirt… Productive out as Dozar pulls a ground ball to the right side to move Hanover to third for the top of the order. Two away… Jones can’t hold up on a nice breaking ball… No runs. One hit. No errors. One left on base (3rd base)…. LSU 3, Alabama 1
Top of the Third:
Tullidge hits a sinking liner to Jones. He stays with it and makes the play. One down… Gregory lobs it softly in Hanover’s glove. Two outs… Good at-bat by Dugas to work a full count walk… Booth’s grounder takes an awful hop right in front of Nola, and he takes it in the chest. Ruled a base hit… Reaves singles to center to score Dugas. Booth should have been meat on the cutoff, but the Tigers botch the pickle pretty badly. No error, however… The inning continues with Ben Moore gives it a ride to left center, where Fields shows his athleticism once again. That looked like a double for sure off the crack of the bat, but instead it’s an out to preserve the LSU lead… One run. Two hits. No errors. Two left on base (1st base, 2nd base)…. LSU 3, Alabama 2
Bottom of the Third:
Fields flies the first pitch he sees out to center… Katz walks… Katz steals second… Great piece of hitting by Rhymes. He reaches out and pops it into the left field grass to single and score Katz… Nola fouls out by first for the second time. Two gone… Tyler Moore grounds out to second… One run. One hit. No errors. One left on base (1st base)…. LSU 4, Alabama 2
Top of the Fourth:
Smith pops out to a retreating Jones… Kelton hits it sky high to Nola for two quick outs… Roberts takes three straight, and that inning was sheer dominance from Gausman… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base…. LSU 4, Alabama 2
Bottom of the Fourth:
Ross doubles to right center… Hanover sac bunts him over to third. One out… Dozar walks… Jones takes called strike three on a nice breaking ball. Two away… Fields inside-outs it to left to score Ross. Nice hitting… Katz walks to load the bases, and that’s all for Pilkington… Lefty Taylor Guilbeau now pitching… Rhymes walks to score Dozar… Nola crushes a grand slam to left to break the game wide open… Tyler Moore goes down swinging… Six runs. Three hits. No errors. None left on base…. LSU 10, Alabama 2
Top of the Fifth:
Tullidge grounds to third, where Hanover’s throw is a little high. Tyler Moore gets the tag for the out, however… Gregory walks… Dugas rolls to Nola, who boots it briefly before flipping it over to Jones for the out at second. Two away… Dugas advances to second on a wild pitch… Booth nubs it up the middle, and Nola is there to throw him out at first… No runs. No hits. No errors. One left on base (1st base)…. LSU 10, Alabama 2
Bottom of the Fifth:
Ross flies out to shallow left… Hanover hits the bag at third for a hit. He tries to motor it to second but is thrown out. Two down… In a righty-lefty switch, Jared Foster pinch hits for Dozar and hits a can of corn to right… No runs. One hit. No errors. None left on base…. LSU 10, Alabama 2
Top of the Sixth:
Foster stays in the game in LF… Reaves rolls out to Nola. One out… Ben Moore singles to right… Smith flies out to Katz for out No. 2… Kelton singles up the middle, and Ben Moore goes first to third… Roberts is overmatched by Gausman and the side is retired. That’s just his third K through six innings though… No runs. One hit. No errors. Two left on base (1st base, 3rd base)…. LSU 10, Alabama 2
Bottom of the Sixth:
Jones lines out to second… Fields rolls out to short. Two away… Katz swings through strike three, and Guilbeau has faced the minimum since Nola’s blast… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base…. LSU 10, Alabama 2
Top of the Seventh:
Tulledge nubs it to first for the out… Gregory can’t catch up. Two down… Dugas chases a pitch in the dirt for Gausman’s fifth K, and the sophomore appears to be getting stronger as his outing progresses… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base…. LSU 10, Alabama 2
Bottom of the Seventh:
Righty Ian Gardeck the new pitcher for Bama… Beau Didier pinch hits for Rhymes and he jumps out of his shoes to chase a pitch at his eyes. One gone… Nola walks on four pitches… Tyler Moore lines out to left for the second out… Ross goes the other way for a single. Nola to second… Hanover swings and misses, but the pitch bounces so far away from Booth that he reaches on a wild pitch… Bases loaded and Foster chases a high fastball… No runs. One hit. No errors. Three left on base (Bases loaded)…. LSU 10, Alabama 2
Top of the Eighth:
Booth takes called strike three, and Gausman has three consecutive K’s… Reaves rolls out to Jones. Two away… Ben Moore looks at strike three, and all of a sudden Gausman is going to have around his usual strikeout total. He’s at seven… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base…. LSU 10, Alabama 2
Bottom of the Eighth:
Case Nixon is the new Bama pitcher… Casey Yocom pinch hits for Jones and rolls softly to short. One away… Fields flies out high to left. Two outs… Jackson Slaid pinch hits for Katz lines his first pitch to left for a base knock… Didier works the count full and walks. Good at-bat… Evan Powell pinch hits for Nola and pops out to first… No runs. One hit. No errors. Two left on base (1st base, 2nd base)…. LSU 10, Alabama 2
Top of the Ninth:
All of LSU’s pinch hitters remain in the game defensively along with Jordy Snikeris as the new catcher. Chris Cotton is the new pitcher… Josh Rosecrans pinch hits. He reaches and lobs it out to left for the first out… Kelton fouls out down the right field line. Two away… Roberts whiffs… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base…. Gametime: 2:19
Final: LSU 10, Alabama 2