LSU coach Paul Mainieri used Tuesday night’s game against Stephen F. Austin to take his most extensive look at reserve players this season, and they came through.
Andrew Stevenson, Chris Chinea and Sean McMullen all took advantage of the opportunity as each had a run-producing hit and the No. 3 Tigers defeated the Lumberjacks 9-2 in Alex Box Stadium.
Stevenson made his first start of the season and hit his first home run, Chinea made his first start and doubled in a run and McMullen made his third start and singled home a run.
LSU won its sixth in a row to improve to 11-1 going into its game against Sacred Heart (0-3) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Alex Box. Stephen F. Austin (3-7) plays Sacred Heart at 1 p.m.
In addition to his homer, Stevenson had a single, a sacrifice bunt and stolen base in addition to a heads-up advancement on a wild pitch.
The Tigers regular starters contributed too as Mason Katz had two hits and two RBI, Raph Rhymes doubled home a run and both extended hit streaks to 10 games.
Mainieri used five pitchers and got mixed results. Starter Brent Bonvillain was given a 5-0 lead after three innings, but was finished after struggling through the fourth and allowing one run. Will LaMarche was ineffective for 1.1 innings, allowing a run, Nate Fury faced one batter and got an inning-ending double play, Kevin Berry (2-0) gave up a hit and a walk in two scoreless innings and Taylor Butler pitched a perfect ninth.
After going out in order in the first, LSU jumped on top in the second. Rhymes led off with a walk and Katz singled to right, extending his hit streak. Right fielder Jackson Hood misplayed the ball for an error, allowing Rhymes to score and Katz to reach third. JaCoby Jones followed with a sacrifice fly that made it 2-0.
The Tigers added three runs in the third. Stevenson led off with his homer, LSU’s first in four games. Chris Sciambra followed with a single and two outs later Rhymes doubled him home, extending his hit streak. Katz singled home Rhymes for a 5-0 lead.
Bonvillain began with three scoreless innings for the third consecutive start, but then ran into trouble in the fourth. He gave up two runs, one earned, in the fourth inning of his first start and one run in the fifth inning of his second start.
Against the Lumberjacks he gave up a leadoff single to Hunter Dozier, then struck out the next two batters. Two walks loaded the bases and Zach Marberry singled home a run. SFA left the bases loaded when shortstop Alex Bregman made a nice stop of Matthew Dickey’s grounder up the middle and flipped the ball to Jones for a forceout at second.
That was Bonvillain’s last inning and the Lumberjacks scored another run against LaMarche in the fifth. Freddy Villalobos walked leading off, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Dozier’s double.
The Tigers got a run in the bottom half without getting a hit. With one out Bregman walked, Rhymes was hit by a pitch, both stole and Katz sent Bregman home with a grounder to first.
LSU increased the lead in the sixth on Chinea’s RBI-double and McMullen’s RBI-single. Christian Ibarra’s RBI-single made it 9-2 in the seventh.
Admission will be free for the SFA-Sacred Heart game at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Alex Box will be cleared after the game, and fans will be re-admitted with the proper ticket for the LSU-Sacred Heart game.