No. 2 LSU Holds On, Beats Central Arkansas, 4-3, to Remain Unbeaten

Kade Anderson
LSU freshman left-hander Kade Anderson started, struck out 6, and picked up his first career win for the Tigers. PHOTO BY Michael Bacigalupi

No. 2 LSU scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and added another run in the bottom of the third on Jared Jones’ third home run of the season, a 403-foot solo shot that exited Alex Box Stadium travelling 105 mph.

The Tigers then held on to beat Central Arkansas, 4-3, to complete its season-opening weekend unbeaten. LSU is 4-0.

Freshman Steven Milam and Tommy White each singled in LSU’s first inning, then Hayden Travinski singled to left field to score Milam from second.

Catcher Brady Neal was then hit by a pitch to load the bases before White scored on a wild pitch, advancing Travinski to third and Neal to second. Jones drew a walk to load the bases again for the Tigers. After right fielder Josh Pearson struck out, LSU left fielder Mac Bingam drew a five-pitch walk to score Travinski and put LSU up 3-0 before Central Arkansas pitcher Bryce Parlin struck out Jake Brown and Michael Braswell to end the inning with three Tigers left on base.

Freshman Kade Anderson made his first career start for LSU and picked up the win. Parlin took the loss for the Bears.

Anderson, the heralded left-hander from St. Paul High School in Covington, pitched 4.0 innings, giving up one run on three hits. Anderson walked three and struck out six and threw 70 pitches before Christian Little relieved him to start the fifth inning with LSU up, 4-1.

Anderson did not pitch his senior year in high school after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

LSU coach Jay Johnson said had it not been for Anderson’s injury, he would more likely than not have bypassed college and gone directly to the Major Leagues. Anderson’s strong pitching, velocity consistently in the mid-90s all game on Monday and his 12-to-6 breaking ball was a testament to that talent.

“I often tell people that had he not got Tommy John surgery and missed his senior year in high school, there’s a high, very high, likelihood he would be a professional baseball player today, and I’m certainly happy to have him here,” Johnson said.

“He’s a great pitcher. He’s a great competitor, got that right type of character, make up and maturity to get out on the mound and do what he did today. Really, not a surprise to me. He’s got a great future here at LSU,” he said.

Central Arkansas scored its first run of the game in the top of the third inning when shortstop Tanner Leonard, the Bears’ nine-hole hitter, led off by needling a 2-2 pitch through the four-hole into right field. Leonard advanced to second on a throwing error by Anderson. Anderson then walked Mendolia. Following a Colt Sagley sacrifice that advanced Leonard to third and Mendolia to second, Anderson threw a wild pitch, and Leonard scored. Anderson, however, quickly regrouped and recovered to strike out Preston Curtis swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the Bears’ threat.

Christian Little relieved Anderson to begin the fifth inning. Little lasted for 1.1 innings, facing six batters while giving up one run on one hit and striking out one. Little walked one and had one wild pitch.

D.J. Primeaux relieved Little with one out in the top of the sixth with Central Arkansas runners on the corners at first and third. Primeaux faced two batters, forcing one out and was relieved by Gavin Guidry with two outs.

Guidry struck out pinch hitter Bryce Cermenelli swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. The Bears left two runners stranded but cut LSU’s lead to two at 4-2 before Gavin Alveti got the Tigers out in order in the bottom of the sixth.

Tanner Leonard singled to right field off Guidry to open the top of the seventh but Guidry then struck out AJ Mendola looking on three pitches for the inning’s first out. It only took Guidry two more pitches during the inning to force Colt Sagley to pop out to shortstop Michael Braswell, then Curtis fouled out down the first base line to end the inning.

CAU added a run in the top of the eighth to cut LSU’s lead to 4-3 when Cassidy Shipley singled off Guidry to lead off. Justin Loer then relieved Guidry. Shipley advanced to second on a wild pitch and then scored on a two-out single to right field by Zeb Allen. Allen then stole second and Loer struck out Cermenelli to end the inning.

Loer finished with three strikeouts.

LSU threatened in the bottom of the eighth but came up empty after Bingham walked with one out and Brown followed with a single. Braswell, however, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and send the game into the ninth with LSU nursing a one-run lead.

Fidel Ulloa relieved Loer to start the ninth and picked up the save.

Ulloa quickly forced Leonard and Mendolia to ground out, Leonard on a lead-off bunt that Ulloa fielded cleanly and Mendolia to first base unassisted.

Sagley grounded out to Milam at second base to end the game.

“Six guys saw action,” Johnson said. “Five in relief of Anderson. And each of those five relievers all made key outs over the course of the game. That was great. I think it’s the strength of our team.  We’ve recruited really hard to put ourselves in that position. And there’s a lot of times that we’re in a really good spot with our pitcher and the match up, and we can do it because we’ve got a lot of guys that do different things well.”

LSU will be back in action on Thursday at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field against Northern Illinois at 2 PM central. The Tigers will then host Stony Brook at 2 PM on Friday before facing Northern Illinois again on Saturday at 1 PM and Stony Brook on Sunday at 1 PM to close out its second weekend of play.

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Todd Horne

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