No. 2 LSU and ace Paul Skenes blow past Mississippi State, 12-1, in series opener

LSU superstar Paul Skenes
PHOTO BY JONATHAN MAILHES

LSU pitcher Paul Skenes wanted to make his final regular season home start at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field something special on Friday night against Mississippi State in the first game of the Southeastern Conference series.

Skenes did not disappoint, helping the No. 2 Tigers dominate Mississippi State, 12-1, in a seven-inning run-rule victory.

The second game of the LSU-Mississippi State series is scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch on Saturday. The game will be streamed on SEC Network +, and it can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network.

Skenes (10-1) struck out the first six batters and then kept going, finishing with 13 strikeouts in a complete game for the junior. He struck out eight of the first 10 batters he faced.

Meanwhile, LSU second baseman Gavin Dugas (4-for-4) hit his 13th home run of the year, a bomb to left field on a fastball down the middle, off Bulldogs’ starter Evan Siary (1-2) on the Mississippi State freshman’s first pitch of the game.

LSU (39-10, 17-7 SEC) led 1-0 at the end of the first and 5-0 at the end of two.

LSU scored four runs in the second inning on three hits, a two-run home run by Brayden Jobert and a solo shot by Jordan Thompson, while Dugas tripled and then scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by left fielder Tre’ Morgan.

Mississippi State (24-24, 6-19) got its first hit of the game off Skenes with two outs in the fifth inning, a seeing-eye dink single. But a ground out from Dugas to first baseman Jared Jones quickly ended the inning. However, Bulldogs’ catcher Ross Highfill led off the top of the sixth inning with a home run off Skenes to cut LSU’s lead to 5-1.

But the Tigers added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth on four hits and a walk, to go up, 8-1.

Tommy White’s two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh finished off Mississippi State.

LSU 12 Mississippi State 1
LSU coach Jay Johnson talks about Tigers dominate win over Mississippi State in game one of series

Skenes picked up his 10th win of the season after firing 7.0 complete innings. Due to the SEC’s 10-run rule, he was credited with a complete game while allowing one run on three hits with one walk and 13 strikeouts.

“You can’t take it for granted, but it’s amazing to watch Paul do what he does and execute the way that he does every time he goes out there,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said.

White induced the run-rule after launching his 18th homer of the season – this time of the two-run variety. White drove in three runs to eclipse the 80-RBI mark on the season to reach 82 and jumped into the program’s RBI single season top-10 list.

Dugas’ four-hit performance also included a triple, a hit-by-pitch, two singles and four runs scored.

“Gavin was great tonight,” Johnson said. “I thought in our last game on Tuesday he was starting to get his body back underneath him; he’s played through some pain and some injuries. The bat speed looks like it’s there, he’s seeing the ball great, and he had a great night tonight.”

In the bottom of the second, the Tigers added to their total on the strength of two more home runs and a sacrifice fly. Jones began the frame with a walk and Jobert drove him in with his seventh home run of the season.

Thompson’s ninth home run of the season immediately followed Jobert with a solo shot to the left-field bleachers, making the score 5-0.

Siary (1-2) was charged with the loss after allowing five runs on five hits in 2.0 innings and being lifted for left-handed reliever Brock Tapper.

After five scoreless innings, Mississippi State’s Highfill hit a ball over the left field wall to give the Bulldogs’ their only run of the game.

LSU responded in the bottom half with three runs in a rally that began with three consecutive singles from catcher Alex Milazzo, Dugas, and leftfielder Tre’ Morgan.

Center fielder Dylan Crews coaxed a walk to bring in the first run. White followed with an RBI single and designated hitter Cade Beloso drove in the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly.

LSU closed out the game in the bottom of the seventh, striking for four runs. Milazzo and Dugas each reached on a single and advanced a base on a wild pitch. Morgan hit a chopper up the middle for a two-RBI single.

With a 10-1 score and a runner on, White smashed a homer into the left-field bleachers to end the contest, marking the Tigers’ 14th run-rule victory this season.

“I’m so proud of Tre’,” Johnson said. “I think it’s abnormal for a college player be so deep into his career and still be on an upswing and improving. These last few games, he’s playing about as well as he ever has. That’s a big lift for our team, and he’s leaving it all out on the field. He’s a winner in every sense of the word.”

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Todd Horne

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