Tigers vanquish SLU, SEC play starts Friday

LSU catcher Hayden Travinski (25) is congratulated for his three-run homer in the first inning of the Tigers' 10-7 win over Southeastern Tuesday night in Alex Box Stadium.

The prelims are over.

Eighteen non-conference games are in books for 15-3 LSU, ranked No. 15 this week in the USA Today Coaches poll.

The Tigers’ offense, powered by true freshmen who don’t blink, has had nine games in which it has scored 10 runs or more.

LSU’s pitching, with its Forrest Gump box of chocolates-you-never-know-what-your-gonna-get bullpen, has had five games of allowing seven or more runs.

So it seemed fitting in Alex Box Stadium, three days before the start of Southeastern Conference play, the final score Tuesday night was 10-7, in favor of the Tigers over Southeastern Louisiana.

Both LSU, which has won six consecutive games and SLU (11-5), which had an eight-game winning streak snapped, scored all of the game’s runs in the first six innings.

“We keep playing these scrappy, hard-nosed teams,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I knew it was going to be a dogfight tonight and they gave us everything we could handle.”

LSU put up its 10 in the opening four innings, bolstered by sophomore catcher Hayden Travinski’s three-run homer in the Tigers’ four-run first inning and his two-run double in LSU’s five-run fourth inning.

The latter inning also included sophomore third baseman Cade Doughty’s three-run homer, his sixth home run in the last six games.

“I’m seeing the ball really well, I’m really not chasing pitches right now,” Doughty said. “I’m able to recognize off-speed (pitches early). I just feel really comfortable in the box right now.”

So, do most of the Tigers, who have now clobbered a nation-leading 35 home runs. LSU also has SEC hits leader Dylan Crews, a sensational right fielder who has 28 hits and who tops the Tigers with a .406 batting average.

All of that is impressive, but LSU will step up several levels of opposing pitching class in the SEC, starting with Mississippi State’s miniscule 2.24 ERA. The 15-3 Bulldogs are ranked No. 3 in the current USA Today coaches poll.

“For the most part, we’ve played some teams with some pretty good arms,” Mainieri said. “I think we’re ready for it (the start of SEC play).”

Because the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the remainder of the 2020 season on the eve of SEC play about to start, Friday’s game against MSU is LSU’s first SEC game since losing in the SEC tournament semifinals to Vanderbilt on May 25, 2019.

It’s also the first regular season SEC game since ending a series vs. Auburn in a 5-4 loss in Alex Box Stadium on May 18, 2019.

“The fans are chomping at the bit to see an SEC game,” Mainieri said, “as much as I’m chomping at the bit to coach in one and players are chomping at the bit to play in them.”

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Ron Higgins

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