LSU’s torrid hitting continued as the Tigers baseball team accumulated 16 hits in a 16-2 victory against error-prone Southern on Wednesday night in Alex Box Stadium.
The victory came one night after LSU had 14 hits in an 11-2 victory against the Jaguars at Zephyr Field in Metairie.
In five games during the past six days, including a three-game sweep of Kentucky last weekend, the Tigers have averaged 14 hits and 12 runs.
“It’s been a great streak,” LSU first baseman Mason Katz said. “We’ve done a really good job of sticking to our approach. We’re hitting a lot of balls hard and a lot of balls into the gaps and not giving teams easy outs. It’s nice when we’re clicking like this going into a big weekend.”
The hits and runs figure to be harder to come by when LSU, ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball, begins a weekend series at No. 10 Arkansas, which leads the Southeastern Conference in team ERA, on Friday. The Tigers (32-2) won their 14th in a row.
Southern (12-14) begins a three-game Southwestern Athletic Conference series against Texas Southern with a doubleheader at noon Saturday in Houston.
The Tigers, who got hits from 12 different players, didn’t need any help, but Southern provided plenty in the form of eight errors, which contributed to six unearned runs.
LSU freshman shortstop Alex Bregman, who earlier in the day was selected to play with Team USA on its summer tour after this season, extended his hitting streak to 22 games, finishing with two hits, a walk, a run batted in, and two runs scored.
Katz extended his hitting streak to 14 games, finishing with a single, a double and three RBIs.
Christian Ibarra had a three-run double, which was ruled a home run then changed to a double, Raph Rhymes and Ty Ross drove in two runs each, Michael Barash, Tyler Moore and Jared Foster drove in one each and Sean McMullen reached base four times and scored three times.
“I’ve been trying to battle with two strikes,” said McMullen, who has reached base safely 16 times in the past five games. “I’m trying to hit the ball back through the middle, and hit it hard. We have great RBI hitters, so if I find a way to get on base we’re going to score runs.”
Freshman left-hander Hunter Devall (3-0) made his first start and pitched two innings, allowing one hit and one run. He was eligible for the victory because his two-inning outing was predetermined.
Devall stepped in for freshman right-hander Russell Reynolds, just as he did eight days earlier when he relieved an ineffective Reynolds after two innings and threw four scoreless innings to get the victory in a 7-3 win against Alcorn State.
Two days later, Reynolds was diagnosed with a tear in the labrum in his pitching shoulder, which would require season-ending surgery. Reynolds tweeted Wednesday that the surgery “went great.”
Hunter Newman gave up one unearned run in two innings, Kevin Berry pitched a scoreless inning, Will LaMarche and Nick Rumbelow each threw a perfect inning, Joey Bourgeois threw a scoreless eighth and Chris Cotton a scoreless ninth.
“Devall and Newman made some good pitches, but they’re still freshmen,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “They’ve just got a way to go, but each time they get out there, it’s a growing experience. It’s part of their development.”
Southern took a 1-0 lead in the first as Devall hit Marcus Tomlin with a pitch, threw a wild pitch and yielded Kevin Williams’ RBI single.
LSU batted around in the first inning for the third consecutive game, though this time it scored just three runs after scoring five in each of the last two first innings.
McMullen led off with an infield single when pitcher Zephran Rochelle (1-2) slipped trying to field his dribbler between the mound and the third-base line. McMullen went to second on a wild pitch, third on Mark Laird’s groundout and scored on Bregman’s single.
“McMullen sets the table for everybody,” Katz said. “If he doesn’t get on the first time he usually does it the second time and that’s huge for us.”
The scoring continued on Rhymes’ infield single, shortstop Harley Wiltz’s throwing error, Katz’s RBI single and Barash’s bases-loaded walk.
The Tigers scored two in the second with some help from the Jaguars defense. McMullen led off with a double and one out later Bregman singed him to third.
Rhymes hit into a fielder’s choice at second and he got an RBI and went to second when Wiltz threw wildly to first trying for a double play. Katz’s RBI double made it 5-1.
Katz’s fielding error on Tyler Kirksey’s grounder to first with one out in the third was LSU’s first error in 65 innings. It cost the Tigers and Newman when Tomlin doubled and Jose De La Torre hit a sacrifice fly.
LSU sent 12 batters to the plate as it scored seven in the fourth. Rhymes walked with the bases loaded, Katz hit an RBI-grounder and reached when Tomlin misplayed the ball at shortstop, Ibarra hit his three-run double, and Ibarra and JaCoby Jones scored on Tomlin’s throwing error at the end of Jones’ double.
Moore had an RBI single and Ross a two-run single in the sixth, and Foster singled in the final run in the seventh.
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