LSU defeats Toledo 15-1 at Alex Box Stadium

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU right fielder Sean McMullen, left, congratulates catcher Tyler Moore after he scored during the game between LSU and Toledo on Saturday at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU right fielder Sean McMullen, left, congratulates catcher Tyler Moore after he scored during the game between LSU and Toledo on Saturday at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Starting pitcher Kyle Bouman trotted to the bullpen to keep warm.

That’s just how ugly that fifth inning got.

LSU piled up 16 hits, had an eight-run fifth that lasted nearly a half-hour and routed Toledo 15-1 Saturday night in front of 6,478 in Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers (6-0) extended their season-opening win streak to a half-dozen with their best offensive showing this year. They hadn’t scored that many runs since having 18 in a May 4 win over Florida last season.

Doubts about the Tigers’ bats are slowly slipping away. LSU has amassed 24 runs and 25 hits in the last two games.

“Hitting is always the last thing to come around,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “It takes a while to get into the flow of the season. I’ve seen these kids – I think they’re good hitters.”

Bouman, a junior college transfer from Missouri, allowed seven hits and just one run and struck out three in his six innings. He allowed the leadoff man on base the first four innings, but LSU’s defense saved him with two double plays, a pickoff and a caught stealing.

A group of relievers – Hunter Devall, Henri Faucheux and Nate Fury – did its job, and the bats emerged for a second straight night.

Fourteen of LSU’s 16 batters Saturday reached base as Mainieri began inserting his young reserves – 20 players played – midway through a game that got ugly fast.

LSU had five extra-base hits. The team fell a homer shy of hitting for the cycle.

Alex Bregman, Sean McMullen, Kramer Robertson and Conner Hale each smacked doubles, and No. 8 hitter Andrew Stevenson had the Tigers’ first triple of the season.

LSU walked a whopping nine times against the struggling Rockets (2-3), a team that had a mid-100s RPI last season.

The Tigers meet Texas Southern at 3 p.m. Sunday to close out the three-game weekend stretch.

They can only hope for a fifth inning like they had Saturday.

LSU batted 11, had six hits and turned a 7-1 lead into a 15-1 rout in the frame.

“That was pretty sweet,” McMullen said.

The inning began with Robertson striking out and then McMullen reached on a fielding error. From there, LSU piled on the hits and drew the walks.

The inning lasted 26 minutes and Bouman had to run to the bullpen about 15 minutes into the frame.

“Went down and was warming up,” he said. “Just seemed like I was down there for about 15 minutes. That’s awesome when you’ve got an offense that can put up 15 runs like that pretty easy.”

Fury became the fifth pitcher to close a game for LSU this season. He struck out two and walked one. Devall and Faucheux each allowed a hit but pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth.

Bouman retired his final eight batters and his defense shined behind him.

He’s in competition with true freshman Jared Poché and junior Cody Glenn for the two SEC weekend starting spots behind ace Aaron Nola. Glenn is expected to secure weekend starting gig. Poché pitches Sunday against Texas Southern.

“He did a good job,” Mainieri said of Bouman. “He’s going to throw strikes and if they hit the ball at you, we’ve got to make the play. Sometimes it’s going to find the holes in the defense. Thought he showed some poise and we made some plays for them.”

LSU played errorless baseball for a third time in six games.

Robertson, the son of Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, got the starting nod over Hale and again impressed.

Hale will start Sunday at second.

Robertson put on a defensive show last Sunday. This time it came at the plate. He went 3 for 5 and his first career hit was a screaming double off the third baseman’s in the second.

“I’m just trying to play hard,” he said afterward.