No. 18 LSU baseball ends four-game losing streak, takes game one over No. 7 Vanderbilt

LSU baseball gets out of a four-game losing skid with a game one win over No. 7 Vanderbilt. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

LSU baseball had lost its last four games, dropped every SEC series it played and plummeted in the rankings coming into the series with No. 7 Vanderbilt.

The Tigers didn’t put together a perfect performance, but they jumped out to a big enough lead early on and managed to hold on for a 10-6 win to shake out of the rut they were stuck in.

Luke Holman got the start and kept Vanderbilt (23-7, 6-4 SEC) hitless through the first four innings. The LSU offense gave Holman run support and the Tigers looked like they would run away with an easy win early.

“It was a good performance by our team,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “It starts on the mound — Luke did a great job again and Griffin came in and picked him up. They combined for 16 strikeouts, so we only had to make 11 defensive plays, and I like those kind of games.”

The Tigers (21-10, 3-7 SEC) had only scored six or more runs in two of their nine SEC games coming into game one with Vandy. Tonight, they scored six runs in the third inning alone.

LSU started the third inning onslaught with a leadoff homer from Josh Pearson. Paxton Kling drew a walk and Steven Milam singled afterwards before a throwing error scored another. Tommy White hit an RBI single to score another in the next at bat.

Brady Neal hit a two-RBI single to bring the score to 5-0 with only one out gone. Hayden Travinski was hit by a pitch before a wild pitch brought Neal around to third. Michael Braswell III grounded out to bring Neal home before Josh Pearson came back up to bat. Pearson struck out swinging to end the inning he started with the Tigers up 6-0.

“Offensively, we had a really good inning there in the third and earned a win over a very good pitcher who nearly threw a complete game for Vanderbilt last week,” Johnson said.

The Tigers kept adding to their lead in the next inning thanks to a Mac Bingham solo homer and a two-RBI single from Travinski. Both hits came with two outs gone in the inning and the Travinski single forced the Commodores into a pitching change with LSU up 9-0.

Vanderbilt responded in the top of the fifth inning though. After being perfect through the first four innings, Holman gave up his first hit of the game on a single to Davis Diaz. He hit the next batter with a pitch before an RBI single from Jayden Davis put the Commodores on the board.

Holman struck out the next batter before Johnathan Vastine blasted his fifth homer of the season to score three more. A flyout ended the inning with LSU’s lead cut to 9-4.

Griffin Herring came in to pitch for Holman in the top of the sixth inning with a runner on first and second and two outs gone. Holman finished the day with 10 strikeouts through 5.2 innings while allowing four hits, four earned runs and no walks.

Herring gave up an RBI single to the first batter he faced and an RBI double to the second batter he faced to bring the score to 9-6. He walked another batter before a groundout managed to get the Tigers out of the inning with a three-run lead still intact.

“It was getting a little dicey,” Johnson said. “I felt like we lost our poise a little bit in the middle of the game. Offensively, the next inning we didn’t really respond to that adversity super well. I thought we were great tonight for the most part but we got out of sorts a little bit and just needed to reign back in the focus and I thought we did that at the end of the game.”

LSU wouldn’t add to its lead until the bottom of the eighth inning. Bingham was walked before Jared Jones hit a single with two outs gone and a fielding error brought home a rummer. The single from Jones was the first hit for the Tigers since a double from Kling in the fifth inning.

Herring came back on to the mound with a 10-6 lead and needing just three more outs to secure the win. Herring quickly got the first two outs before Vastine singled to keep the game going. Vastine made it to second on a wild pitch before Austin struck out, but the pitch was in the dirt and allowed him to reach first and put runners on the corners.

Herring recorded a strikeout in the next at bat to end the game.

LSU finished with nine hits and allowed seven hits to Vanderbilt. Herring went 3.1 innings and gave up just three hits and one walk while recording six strikeouts.

LSU and Vanderbilt will meet in game two tomorrow night at 7 p.m. That game will be televised on SEC Network.

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Will Nickel

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