LSU’s baseball team had very little hitting, but made up for it with an abundance of effective pitching in a 4-0 victory against Grambling on Wednesday night at Alex Box Stadium.
Coach Paul Mainieri used his weekend batting order and it produced just a season-low three hits, though Christian Ibarra’s two-run home run was a big one. LSU’s previous low for hits was six against Maryland (Feb. 16), BYU (Feb. 21) and Missouri (March 29).
Grambling starter Cory Jordan (1-3) allowed the hits and runs, but two of the runs were unearned. Jordan walked two and struck out three in six innings.
“Quite frankly, the quality of their starting pitcher surprised us tonight,” Mainieri said. “That kid was good. He was throwing 88 to 91 miles per hour. He had a real good curveball that had downward trajectory. He’s real tall (6-foot-5) and his breaking ball was going straight down, so it was hard to pick it up.
“I’m as guilty as the players. I think it just caught us off-guard, and we just weren’t ready to compete against that caliber of a guy tonight. Fortunately, we went out there and pitched great.”
Ten LSU pitchers limited Grambling to three hits, walking two and striking out four. Two other Grambling batters reached when they were hit by pitches, but only one base-runner advanced as far as second base.
No. 2-ranked LSU (35-3) begins a Southeastern Conference series at Alabama on Friday. Grambling (14-22) begins a Southwestern Athletic Conference series against Southern with a doubleheader at noon Saturday at Lee-Hines Field.
Brent Bonvillain, making his first start since March 5, pitched two scoreless innings for LSU. In the first inning, he allowed just a two-out walk to Darren Farmer before striking out Brandon Kiser. He walked Elias Todman leading off the second, then got a pop-up and a double play.
Kurt McCune, making his third appearance since returning from a back injury, relieved to start the third and allowed a two-out single to Juan Bueno. He gave up a leadoff single to Farmer in the fourth, then got a fly-out and two pop-ups.
“My splitter wasn’t really where I need it to be. I need to get a little more depth on it,” McCune said. “But my fastball still felt great and I felt like I had good control of it.”
It’s unclear if Cody Glenn, who took a line drive off his right leg just above the knee last week at Arkansas, will be ready to pitch Sunday at Alabama. McCune could make that start if Glenn is unable to.
Jordan hit Sean McMullen leading off the first and gave up a leadoff single to Mason Katz in the second, but followed both with three consecutive outs.
He got the first two batters in the third before Mark Laird beat out a grounder to short and stole second. After Alex Bregman walked, Katz hit a high fly to right field that Kris Minter dropped for a two-base error, allowing Laird and Bregman to score.
LSU increased its lead to 4-0 in the sixth as Raph Rhymes led off with a walk and one out later Ibarra hit his fourth homer of the season on a fly ball that landed in the bleachers just inside the foul pole in left.
“That pitcher was really good,” Ibarra said. “He was hitting his spots and he was mixing his pitches well. When I hit the homer, it probably gave our pitchers more confidence to just throw strikes.”
After McCune departed, Will LaMarche struck out the only two batters he faced and Kevin Berry gave up a single in one-third of an inning in the fifth.
LaMarche had walked three, hit a batter and allowed three runs in a third of an inning at Arkansas last Saturday in his last outing.
“Obviously, that was a disappointing performance last time,” LaMarche said. “It left a terrible taste in my mouth so I was definitely looking for ward to this as an opportunity to get ride of that taste.”
Hunter Newman and Hunter Devall each pitched a hitless inning, though each put a hit batsman on base.
Nate Fury retired the only two batters he faced to start the eighth and Nick Rumbelow got the next batter to end the inning.
Joey Bourgeois retired the only two betters he faced to start the ninth and Chris Cotton got the next one to end the game.