METAIRIE — Kurt McCune, Mitchell Sewald and Michael Barash all had successful debuts as the LSU baseball team defeated Southern 11-2 in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Foundation Classic on Tuesday night at Zephyr Field.
McCune started and got the victory in his season debut, Sewald finished with two scoreless innings in his Tigers debut, and Barash caught both of them in his debut as a starting catcher.
Additionally Barash and Andrew Stevenson joined mainstays Alex Bregman and Mason Katz as key hitters in LSU’s 14-hit attack.
“Everybody chipped in a little here and there,” Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said.
McCune, a junior right-hander sidelined since the preseason because of a back injury, limited the Jaguars to three hits and two runs over three innings. He was eligible for the victory because it was predetermined that he would pitch fewer than five innings.
“It was a good first outing,” Mainieri said. “It wasn’t a world-beating outing, but all around, he did a nice job.”
The Tigers, ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball, won their 13th in a row to improve to 31-2. They will play Southern (12-13) again at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Alex Box Stadium.
Brent Bonvillain relieved McCune to start the fourth and struck out seven in three scoreless innings. Nate Fury pitched a perfect seventh. And Sewald, a freshman from Mandeville who pitched at Rummel, came in and allowed a single and a double and struck out one.
Bregman had a three-run triple as he extended his hitting streak to 21 games, and Katz had a two-run single as he extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Barash, making his third start after two as the designated hitter, had two hits and a walk, drove in a run and scored two. Mark Laird had a two-run double, and Stevenson had a two-run single.
LSU scored five runs in the first inning for the second consecutive game.
After one out, Southern starter Camilo Godoy (0-3) walked Laird and hit Bregman with a pitch.
Raph Rhymes beat out a grounder to third to load the bases, and Katz followed with a two-run single to left.
One out later, JaCoby Jones walked, and the speedy Stevenson beat out a slow grounder to second when Harley Wiltz didn’t charge the ball.
Katz hustled and followed Rhymes to the plate for a 4-0 lead.
Barash’s RBI single completed the scoring in the inning.
“We made a couple of mistakes, and instead of a two- or three-run inning, that made it a five-run inning,” said Southern assistant coach Fernando Puebla, who is filling in while head coach Roger Cador is participating on a task force meeting with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig in Milwaukee.
“If you don’t make routine plays against good teams, you won’t have a chance to beat them,” Puebla said.
McCune was sharp in the first inning, allowing just a one-out walk and striking out two. In the second, he gave up a leadoff triple to Kevin Williams and a sacrifice fly to DJ Wesley.
In the third, McCune gave up a one-out infield single to Tyler Kirksey, walked Marcus Tomlin, and yielded a two-out RBI single to Jose De La Torre.
McCune finished by getting Williams on a grounder back to the mound, having thrown 53 pitches, 33 for strikes.
“It was great to be back on the field,” McCune said. “I felt very healthy, which was huge. One thing I was happy with was the conviction and accuracy I had with my fastball. I kind of struggled with it in the third inning, but I still have some endurance I have to work on.
“There are things I could have done better, but I was satisfied with my health. I have to keep working to get my curveball over. It was great to get the first one out of the way.”
After retiring eight straight batters, Godoy ran into trouble with two out in the fourth.
He walked Barash, Sean McMullen singled to center, and Laird reached when Tomlin mishandled his grounder to short.
Bregman followed with a drive to the wall in left center for a three-run triple that extended the lead to 8-2.
Godoy left after giving up a leadoff single to Barash in the sixth. Reliever John Thigpen walked McMullen, and Laird hit a two-run double to make it 10-2.
“Godoy did settle in, and I’m pleased with the way he pitched,” Puebla said. “We just didn’t make enough plays behind him.”
The Tigers made a couple of plays behind Sewald: Stevenson had a diving catch center in the eighth, and Tyler Moore made a diving stop at third to start a 5-3-5 double play in the ninth inning.
“It was fun,” Sewald said. “When I got down to the bullpen, I started to throw strikes, and I felt confident.
“It was good to make my debut at Zephyr Field. I came to (the Pontiff Classic) last year, and it was an honor to play here,” Sewald said.
Mainieri said he wanted to put Barash “in the spotlight a little bit,” knowing starting catcher Ty Ross is likely to turn pro after this season.
“Coach came to me yesterday and said, ‘Rook, are your ready for your first opportunity?’” Barash said. “I said, ‘Absolutely, I’ve been waiting for you to tell me that since I got here.’”
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