BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The LSU baseball team clinched a big SEC series win with a 14-5 drubbing of Tennessee Saturday night at a damp and cold Alex Box Stadium.
For the second night in a row, the Tigers' bats got going right away. Beau Jordan and Zach Watson led the game off with back-to-back hits. Watson was eventually driven in by Antoine Duplantis, his eighth straight game with a hit, to make it 1-0 Tigers. One batter later, Austin Bain scratched another run across with an RBI groundout to make it 2-0. Daniel Cabrera added onto the lead with an RBI single to make it 3-0 LSU in the first inning for the second night in a row. Jake Slaughter followed with a bases-clearing triple to give the Tigers a commanding 5-0 lead through one inning.
In the second, Bain remained hot at the plate, driving in his fifth RBI of the series to make it 6-0 Tigers.
Tennessee clawed their way back into the game in the top of the fifth. Hilliard gave up a home run to left off the bat of Nick Mascia to make it 6-1. The Vols had runners on first and second with two outs when Wyatt Stapp drove a ball to the wall that brought both runners across to make it 6-3 Tigers. Hilliard escaped the jam with a strikeout to end the inning.
The Tigers got the runs back in the bottom half. A suicide squeeze by Hal Hughes proved successful to make it 7-3, and an RBI groundout by Cabrera a batter later made it 8-3 LSU. Watson drove in the Tigers' third run of the inning with a ground ball up the middle that was bobbled by the Vols' shortstop, making it 9-3.
LSU freshman starting pitcher Ma'Khail Hilliard made his Saturday night debut. The Central native was sensational through his first four innings, but ran into trouble in the fifth, allowing three Tennessee runs. He settled down in the sixth, sitting the Vols down in order. Through six solid innings of work, Hilliard allowed three earned runs on five hits, with one walk and six strikeouts. Caleb Gilbert came on in relief in the seventh inning, getting out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the Vols off the board in the frame.
Nick Coomes had the first three-hit game of his career, and the Tigers recorded double-digit hits (17) for the second game in a row.
LSU continued to add-on in the later innings. A Jake Slaughter home run, his third of the series, made it 11-3 LSU in the seventh (a career-high five RBI's in the game). Then a Duplantis RBI single plated two more runs in the inning to push the lead to 13-3.
With a big lead, Gilbert closed out the game, and LSU walked away with a series-clinching 14-5 win.
Game three of the series will be Sunday at 4:00 p.m. Head coach Paul Mainieri has not announced a starter. The game will air on the SEC Network.