Mason Katz ended a 25-game home run drought and triggered a four-homer night for the LSU baseball team as the Tigers beat Ole Miss 7-1 in the opener of a three-game series Thursday night at Alex Box Stadium.
Katz, who found out Thursday morning he would be starting at second base instead of his customary spot at first because of a hand injury to JaCoby Jones, hit a double and scored during a two-run first-inning, led off the fourth with his first homer in 109 plate appearances and doubled and scored again in the eighth.
“I hit it really good, and when I got out of the batter’s box I said, ‘Please go out of the park,’ ” Katz said of his career-high 14th homer of the season. “After about three steps, I heard (shortstop Alex) Bregman yell out of the dugout, ‘He’s back.’ ” I figured if he’s yelling that, it’s got to be out. It felt good. I needed that.”
Christian Ibarra, Raph Rhymes and Sean McMullen also homered as LSU had its first multi-homer game since April 20, its first four-homer game since March 30 and its first home game with more than two homers this season.
That provided plenty of offense for Cody Glenn (6-2), who pitched seven innings and allowed eight hits, one run and hit two batters.
“I know everyone’s going to talk about the four home runs,” Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said, “but I thought Cody Glenn was the key to the game. He made big pitches when he had to. The idea is to keep the other team from scoring runs. Base runners don’t count.”
The Tigers, 47-7 and 22-6 in the Southeastern Conference, matched the school record for regular-season wins regardless of number of games played. The 1986 team was 47-12. They also tied the school record for SEC wins, matching the 1986 and 1997 teams. They’ll meet the Rebels, 35-19 and 14-14, again at 7 p.m. Friday.
LSU hit Ole Miss starter Mike Mayers (4-5) hard after one was out in the first. Mark Laird ripped a double to right, and Bregman followed with an RBI single.
Katz lined a double down the third-base line, but Bregman was thrown out at the plate. Rhymes followed with another double down the line, sending Katz home for a 2-0 lead.
Mayers got the Tigers in order in the second and third before getting hit hard again in the fourth. Katz led off with his home run, and after Rhymes went out on a hard grounder to first, Ibarra hit his sixth homer of the season for a 4-0 lead.
Rhymes hit a line drive to right-center with one out in the sixth, and center fielder Auston Bousfield tried to make a diving catch but missed the ball. Rhymes circled the bases and scored after catcher Stuart Turner flipped him in a collision as Turner went up the third-base line to try and field shortstop Austin Anderson’s relay throw home.
“I ran out of gas coming around third,” Rhymes said with a smile. “I will never do that again. I will either stop at third or hit it over the fence. That was too far to run.”
McMullen hit his second homer of the season with one out in the seventh, and Tyler Moore’s sacrifice fly drove in the final run in the eighth.
“When you have run support like we had tonight, there isn’t that much pressure to put up a zero every inning, and that makes it easier to pitch,” Glenn said. “I would like to have some more 1-2-3 innings to make it easier on our defense and on myself and my pitch count, but I made big pitches when I had to.”
Glenn didn’t have a clean inning the whole night, but he kept Ole Miss from scoring until the seventh. Tanner Mathis led off the game with a single and Anderson sacrificed, but Moore, who replaced Katz at first, threw out Mathis trying to reach third on the bunt.
“The instincts of the game just comes to you on a weird play like that,” said Moore, who has played first, third and catcher. “Playing all around the field, you get a good sense of direction and a feel for the type of throws you have to make. That was kind of like a third-base throw, just switched around.”
Glenn stranded two runners in the second, one each in the third, fourth and fifth, then two in the sixth. He got the first two outs in the seventh, but gave up a run before getting the final out.
The Rebels got 11 hits, but they stranded 13 runners.
“That was really the story of the game,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We got the hits, but they were all singles, and we didn’t capitalize on opportunities we had with a big double or a home run like they did. That had more to do with how good they are, especially when they have some momentum. We needed to come back early with a big extra-base hit when the game was in reach and we had a runner in scoring position, but we didn’t do that tonight.”