LSU started a crucial SEC West road series off on the right foot behind the best start to date of Zack Hess’ young career.
The sophomore ace fired a career-high eight innings of four-hit shutout ball and LSU scored four times in the fourth inning to beat Texas A&M 4-1 in the series opener in College Station on Thursday night.
It wasn’t so much the eye-popping strikeout totals of games past as Hess once punched out five, but he pounded the strike zone and was economical enough to pitch into the eighth inning and complete it for the first time in his tenure as a starting pitcher. Texas A&M only had five at-bats with runners in scoring position all night.
LSU meanwhile did all of its offensive damage in the fourth inning, knocking Texas A&M starter Stephen Kolek out of the game in the process.
A leadoff walk to Zach Watson got the chaos started and Austin Bain followed with a double that by all accounts could’ve, and possibly should’ve, be caught. Antoine Duplantis then came through with a clutch two-run single to get the Tigers on the board.
After two quick outs, Hunter Feduccia smoked an RBI double that chased Duplantis home. The catcher then came home to scored on a subsequent RBI single up the middle from Bryce Jordan.
LSU didn’t muster much in the way of offense the rest of the night, but Hess’ dominance made it a moot point. He began the eighth inning with 100 pitches and breezed through the frame anyway.
Paul Mainieri turned the game over to freshman Devin Fontenot to finish out the game and he served up a solo home run that ended the LSU bullpen’s shutout streak at 29.2 innings. The Texas native closed out the game without further incident from there.
The Tigers will now have two chances to clinch its first road series victory of the season. First pitch of game two is set for 6 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network.