(This story has been updated after LSU’s postgame press conference)
In its 10th SEC baseball game of the year at Kentucky on Friday night, LSU finally looked like the team that started the season ranked No. 7 nationally.
Seven of nine Tigers’ in the starting batting order had two hits or more, including three home runs.
“It was kind of fun to feel like you can get contributions throughout your lineup instead of relying on two or three guys,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “That’s what a good baseball team looks like.”
Starting pitcher Landon Marceaux was a master of control, muzzling the SEC’s third best hitting team with an array of well-placed pitches.
“It wasn’t just throwing the ball in the zone for strikes, it was well-commanded strikes,” Marceaux said.
Even LSU’s fielding, which has been adventure many times this season, held steady with just two errors on Kentucky’s wonky artificial turf.
All those positives led to the Tigers’ 15-2 victory, the first time this frustrating season that LSU (19-11, 2-8 SEC) won the opening game of a league series.
“Marceaux was an absolute bulldog on the mound, we hit in the clutch, we didn’t strikeout a lot and we made the plays in the field,” said LSU designated hitter Cade Beloso, who had two hits and four RBIs after entering the night batting .120 in SEC play. “It was as complete an all-around win as we’ve had this year. We can build off this game.”
Right fielder Dylan Crews and first baseman Tre’ Morgan hit solo homers in the first and seventh innings and were sandwiched around left fielder Gavin Dugas’ two-run homer in LSU’s five-run fifth inning.
It provided more than enough offense for Marceaux. LSU led 9-0 before UK touched Marceaux for a run each in the sixth and seventh innings. He gave up seven hits but struck out eight batters and walked none in 7.1 innings.
Relievers Devin Fontenot and Trent Vietmeier took over and closed out Kentucky (19-8, 5-5) with 1.2 scoreless innings.
LSU battered three Kentucky pitchers for 17 hits with 12 of them and eight earned runs off in five innings of UK starter Cole Stupp.
Four Tigers had multiple hit performances, led by center fielder Giovanni DiGiacomo’s 3 for 4 effort in just his sixth start after missing 23 games with a hamstring pull. Catcher Hayden Travinski, who had been 0-for-14 in SEC play, also had two hits and four RBIs.
“Travinski hadn’t had a hit in the SEC, Gio came in and we hadn’t been getting a lot out of center fielders and Cade has had a rough year,” Mainieri said. “Three spots in the lineup that we hadn’t been getting much offense out of, all of a sudden we got a lot of offense out of.”
LSU snapped a six-game SEC losing streak after getting swept by then-No. 11 Tennessee two weeks ago and last weekend by No.. 1 Vanderbilt.
“A lot of our losses, if you look back at Tennessee, we were a hit away, a pitch away, we were so close,” Fontenot said. “That six-game stretch was a rough. Tonight, we hit the ball extremely well, we made some pitches. That’s what it takes and we’re going to keep trying moving forward.”
Because rain in the forecast Saturday’s game 2 has been pushed back to 5:30 p.m. and will be televised by the SEC Network and SEC Network +. LSU junior right hander AJ Labas will start on the mound with UK going with freshman righty Ryan Hagenow.