LSU starting pitcher Landon Marceaux did his best to carry his team as long as he could.
Six no-hit innings were a highlight for Marceaux who began to tire in the seventh inning, allowing the nation’s top-ranked team just enough of a crack to slip through and make its move.
Not only did Arkansas break up Marceaux’s no-hit bid in the seventh, it also spoiled his shutout and snapped a scoreless tie when the Razorbacks scored twice in the inning and tacked on five more in the eighth for a 7-0 victory Friday over LSU in the first game of a Southeastern Conference series before a season-high crowd of 6,331 at Alex Box Stadium.
Because of inclement weather in Sunday’s forecast, the two teams will meet again Saturday in a doubleheader with nine-inning games at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
“You couldn’t ask more out of a starting pitcher, he was tremendous,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said of Marceaux. “A true pitchers’ duel in every sense of the word. It was an SEC Friday night and Landon was terrific.”
Marceaux and Arkansas left-hander Patrick Wicklander matched each other in a 0-0 deadlock through six innings.
“I thought their starter did a tremendous job as well, he’s really talented,” Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn said of Marceaux. “He pitched great, kept us off balance threw a lot of strikes. He got some ground balls. We finally got to him late.”
LSU (25-16, 6-13 in SEC) was limited to three hits by Wicklander, who after retiring 11 straight batters, left the game with two outs in the seventh when Gavin Dugas and Cade Doughty both singled.
The Razorbacks (33-7, 14-5) turned to standout closer Kevin Kopps, who struck out Giovanni DiGiacomo to end the seventh. He went on to strike out five of the six batters he faced in his 2.1 innings outing, earning his sixth save of the season.
Wicklander (3-1) struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
“That’s part of the game,” Marceaux of a lack of offensive support from his teammates. “Patrick Wicklander is a phenomenal pitcher. He threw very well tonight. He matched me pitch for pitch, he threw very well, and then they turned it over to one of the best closers in the country.”
Marceaux (4-4) retired eight of the first nine batters he faced and had eight strikeouts through the first six innings. Arkansas managed to get two base runners on a couple of errors by Doughty.
After pitching from ahead and conserving his pitch count Marceaux did the opposite in the seventh, beginning with Arkansas’ first hit from Matt Goodheart – a single on a 3-1 pitch. Following an out, first baseman Brady Slavens reached on a single and gave the Razorbacks runners and second and third when the Tigers missed the cut off man on their relay to the infield.
Center fielder Christian Franklin delivered a two-run single to center field, the first of his two big hits in the game.
“I started getting behind in counts,” said Marceaux, who threw 64 of 100 pitches for strikes in seven innings. “That’s something I didn’t do through the first six. Through the first six I was 0-1, 0-2. In the seventh I missed a spot here, missed a spot there. You’ve got to make them earn it.”
The combination of Wicklander and Kopps combined to help Arkansas maintain its 2-0 lead after LSU had its biggest scoring threat of the game snuffed out when Kopps struck out DiGiacomo.
“He challenged us with the fastball and that wasn’t something we handled very well,” Dugas said of Wicklander, who retired 19 of 20 batters until Dugas and Doughty singled in the seventh. “He did a good job of throwing that breaking ball when he did. Hat’s off to him, he threw a good game.”
Arkansas feasted on LSU’s bullpen with five runs on three hits, to extend its lead to 7-0 in the eighth. Slavens (2-4, 2 RBIs) drove in a pair of runs with a single to right field and Franklin (2-4, 5 RBIs) hit a three-run homer to left on a 3-1 pitch from Michael Fowler.
Kopps helped to finish off Arkansas’ shutout, marking the third time this season LSU failed to score a run. The Tigers were also limited to a season-low three hits.
“He’s on a good roll right now,” Van Horn said of Kopps. “He’s confident and the team loves it when he’s out there.”