LSU shortstop Jordan Thompson lined a bases-clearing double to right-center field to break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday, propelling the top-ranked Tigers to a 5-2 victory over No. 9 Tennessee inside Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
End 8 | Heart of a Champion— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) March 31, 2023
TENN – 2
LSU – 5 pic.twitter.com/vIcBVFoclY
LSU (23-3, 5-2 in SEC) and Tennessee (20-7, 3-4) meet in Game 2 of the series at 6 p.m. Friday. The game will be televised by the SEC Network, and it can be heard on 98.1-FM.
The opening game of the series generated attendance figure of 13,068, the largest in Alex Box Stadium history.
“Our fans were phenomenal, what an electric environment,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “It makes this the best place in the country to play and coach college baseball.
The stadium erupted when Thompson provided the game-winning hit.
“Jordan is special from a competitive-nature standpoint,” Johnson said. “We’re ranked No. 1 in the country right now largely because of Jordan Thompson. I think when the MLB Draft comes around, people will understand how good of a player he is.”
LSU starting pitcher Paul Skenes had another phenomenal outing and picked up double-digit strikeouts for his seventh straight start. His final line was 7.0 innings, five hits, one run, and 12 strikeouts.
“This was the third outing in a row for Paul where he was right around the 100-pitch mark,” Johnson said, “and the last pitch was just as impressive as the first pitch. Tennessee battled him hard, but Paul just didn’t give them anything.”
LSU reliever Garrett Edwards (4-0) earned the win after tossing the final 1.2 innings with no runs on two hits with two strikeouts.
Volunteer reliever Seth Halvorsen (2-2) was charged with the loss after working 3.2 innings and allowing three runs on three hits with one strikeout.
Tennessee opened the scoring in the fifth when right fielder Christian Scott got the Vols on the board with an RBI single.
Second baseman Gavin Dugas responded for the Tigers in the bottom half, launching a blast to left field for his eighth dinger of the season for a 2-1 lead. The inning began with a double from Thompson, who scored on the home run.
Center fielder Dylan Crews followed Dugas with a single, extending his hit streak to 24 games, and he has reached base in 30 straight contests, dating back to last season.
In the eighth inning, the Vols tied the contest at 2-2 with an RBI-single by second baseman Christian Moore. The game was tied heading into the bottom of the eighth, but LSU responded in the bottom half with three runs.
After two quick outs, three Tigers reached base consecutively starting with a fielding error on a ground ball by designated hitter Cade Beloso and infield single from right fielder Paxton Kling.
Left fielder Josh Pearson reached via a hit-by-pitch, and with the bases juiced, Thompson cleared the bases to strike for three runs and lift the Tigers to victory.