Information provided by LSU Sports
BATON ROUGE, La. – Designated hitter Jordan Romero drilled a fifth-inning single up the middle to plate two runs, breaking the 2-2 tie with New Orleans to spark the Tigers' offense as LSU defeated the Privateers 9-4 Wednesday at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
With the win, the Tigers improved to 13-3 on the year, while UNO, coached by former LSU all-American outfielder Blake Dean, dropped to 13-4.
The sixth-ranked Tigers will begin conference play on Friday, March 18, against Alabama at 7:00 p.m. CT in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. The game will be available online only via SEC Network+ and can be accessed at WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app. It will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network. Fans can also go to LSUsports.net for live stats and audio through the GeauxZone.
The Tigers used 10 pitchers in the win and limited the Privateers to four runs on eight hits, striking out six and walking four. Sophomore right-hander Austin Bain earned the win after entering to pitch the fifth inning. He improved to 2-0 on the year, tossing one inning and walking one with one strikeout.
UNO starter Bryan Warzek (0-1) suffered the loss after firing 4.2 innings and giving up five runs—two earned—on six hits and walking five batters.
"I think we're ready to start SEC play," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "We've improved each week since the season began, and we've been able to solidify the positions on our team. There are still some concerns in our bullpen in bridging the gap between our starting pitchers and our late-inning relievers, but we're continuing to make progress in that area."
In the top of the first, third baseman Dakota Dean hit a two-out opposite field solo home run to left field to give UNO the early 1-0 lead.
The Tigers answered in the bottom of the first with two runs after shortstop Kramer Robertson singled up the middle and centerfielder Jake Fraley reached via walk to lead off the inning. The runners moved to scoring position after stealing three bags, and right fielder Antoine Duplantis singled to left field to score Robertson from third. With the bases loaded and no outs, Fraley scored from third on a double play ball, which gave the Tigers the 2-1 lead over UNO.
UNO tied it at 2-2 in the top of the second after centerfielder Chaz Boyer sent a RBI double to the right field corner and first baseman Preston Marsh scored from second after reaching on a walk earlier in the inning.
LSU plated three runs in the bottom of the fifth Romero laced a two-out, two-RBI single up the middle to score Duplantis and left fielder Beau Jordan who reached on a base hit and a throwing error, respectively. With runners on first and second, third baseman Chris Reid singled to right field to score pinch runner Greg Deichmann from second as the Tigers took the 5-2 lead.
"It was really a tight ball game through the first four innings, and Blake (Dean) has done a tremendous job with his team," Mainieri said. "They swung the bats very well, and their freshman starting pitcher showed a lot of promise. Romero came through with the clutch base hit to break the tie in the fifth, and we were able to build the lead from there."
In the bottom of the sixth, Duplantis tripled down the right field line to score Robertson from first base. Duplantis later scored on a wild pitch, and first baseman Bryce Jordan hit the first home run of his career into the left field bleachers to extend the Tigers' lead to 8-2.
The Privateers cut into LSU's lead in the top of the seventh after right fielder Jay Robinson scored on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Aaron Palmer to make it 8-3 in favor of the Purple and Gold.
LSU scored another run in the bottom of the eighth when pinch hitter Bryce Adams laced a double to left-center field to score Fraley from first base and make it 9-3 LSU.