LSU whips Purdue behind Bregman homer, Nola gem

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND -- LSU's Kramer Robertson throws to first base during a game against Purdue earlier this season. Robertson was poised to pitch in Tuesday's win over Alcorn State. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND -- LSU's Kramer Robertson throws to first base during a game against Purdue earlier this season. Robertson was poised to pitch in Tuesday's win over Alcorn State.

Alex Bregman made Purdue downright sick Friday night.

Heck, he fell ill himself.

Bregman launched a three-run home run, had two more hits and ace Aaron Nola hurled a career-high 12 strikeouts as LSU whipped the lowly Boilermakers 10-0 at Alex Box Stadium.

Bregman, pulled from the game before the eighth inning for what coach Paul Mainieri called “stomach ache,” drove in a career-tying four runs.

He recovered from a first-inning strikeout by getting three hits over the next four pitches he saw, including that jack to left field that incited the biggest roar of the night from the 5,735 at the Box.

“I thought Bregman’s three swings tonight were about the best ones I’ve seen him take this spring,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “He looked good.”

If Bregman was good, Nola was great.

The junior retired his first 10 batters of the game and he gave up just two grounding singles up the middle as the Tigers (12-2) opened this three-game weekend series against the Boilermakers (1-8) with a dazzling rout.

Nola (4-0) extended his season-opening scoreless streak to 27 innings. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 53 consecutive innings, dating back to last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Told that afterward, Nola said, “Dang. I didn’t even think about that, but that’s pretty good.”

The Catholic High grad has started 2014 with a head-shaking line – 36 strikeouts, 4 walks, 11 hits, 27 innings pitched.

He shined again in his final appearance before starting in next Friday’s conference opener at consensus top-10 ranked Vanderbilt.

In fact, mostly everyone did.

The Tigers had 13 hits.

Kade Scivicque had three of those, Andrew Stevenson kept a 12-game hitting streak alive and made a diving web gem to save a double, and even freshman pinch-hitter Jake Fraley smacked a double.

“I think our team’s ready to go,” Scivicque said.

LSU may have played its most complete game yet in the midst of a torrid stretch and before that collision with the Commodores (13-2).

The Tigers played their third game in three days and meet Purdue on Saturday and Sunday at the Box. In all, they’ll play seven in an eight-day span preceding the trip to Nashville.

“This five days in a row deal, I know everybody’s concerned about it. I thought it was a silver lining for us,” Mainieri said. “I feel our team playing looser and more confident, not trying to force anything.”

Before Friday, Bregman might not have been in that mix.

He went 11 games without striking out to start this season. In his next 10 at-bats – all over the last three games – he struck out three times.

The last of those came in the first inning Friday. He watched the third strike pass in front of his thighs and moped back to the dugout.

Oh, the fury.

Bregman released three games worth of frustration on the next four pitches he saw.

“Alex, he knows the game. He knows the kid make a great pitch and it froze him,” Mainieri said of the strikeout.

“He was very determined.”

Bregman smashed the very next pitch he saw into the midway up the metal bleachers beyond the left field wall.

It didn’t end there.

He smacked two hard-hit singles, brought in another run and left the game after his seventh-inning RBI single.

He felt nauseous when returning to the dugout following the hit, Mainieri said.

“We immediately took him out of the game,” the coach said. “We have a doctor coming to check him out. Hopefully it’s just a little stomach ache.”

Bregman was unavailable for comment after the game, but released a statement on his Twitter account.

“Great team win,” he wrote. “Aaron was outstanding and was very happy with how we competed. Loved the energy.”