Last Modified: Friday, March 08, 2013 11:18 PM
BATON ROUGE — It got to the point that pitcher Aaron Nola’s LSU teammates, following long-standing baseball tradition, were ignoring him in the dugout.
Six perfect innings get you the silent treatment.
Moments later, however, they had to rescue him before the Tigers held on for a 9-4 victory over Washington to open a three-game series Friday night.
Nola retired the first 18 Husky batters with six strikeouts before getting roughed up in the seventh for four runs — three of them before he got an out — to close the gap to 6-4.
“I don’t know if he hit the wall or they just started getting good at-bats against,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.
“I didn’t hit the wall,” Nola insisted. “They had really good at-bats against me.”
Fortunately the Tigers hit most everything else, collecting 13 hits and making Washington pay dearly for the Huskies’ two errors.
Third baseman Chris Ibarra drove in three runs with a single and a double and Raph Rhymes went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.
“We were about ‘this’ close to playing a really great game,” Mainieri said. “We had some really good at-bats early in the game. I thought our offense was really good.”
The Tigers (13-1) built up a 6-0 lead while Nola flirted with perfection.
“I had good command of all my pitches,” the sophomore said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been cruising like that … and then have a four-spot put up on me.”
Washington opened the seventh with back-to-back singles and Nola hit a batter before a two-run single by Trevor Mitsui, followed by RBI singles by Michael Camporeale and Andrew Ely.
Reliever Nick Rumbelow finally came in to get the final two outs and the Tigers added a single run in the seventh and two more in the eighth before an adventurous ninth.
“I liked the poise we showed once the other team got back in it,” Mainieri said.
The Huskies loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth on a walk, single and hit batter, but Chris Cotton came in to retire three straight for his fourth save.
Washington’s scheduled Friday starter, staff ace Austin Voth, was a late scratch and will face LSU against Tiger starter Ryan Eades into today’s 6:30 p.m. game.