Last Modified: Monday, April 08, 2013 10:04 AM
BATON ROUGE — Somehow the word “sweep” doesn’t seem strong enough.
What LSU did to No. 8 Kentucky over the weekend went well beyond three victories and a straw broom.
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“We just ran into a buzz saw,” Kentucky coach Gary Henderson said after the second-ranked Tigers completed the demolition with an 11-4 Sunday massacre for their third straight SEC weekend sweep.
“I don’t know what else you can say about it. That’s just a really good team over there.”
Even LSU coach Paul Mainieri couldn’t find much to nit-pick about.
“What’s not to like,” he smiled after his team’s 12th straight win extended the best start in school history to 30-2 and, at 11-1, tied for best-ever start in SEC play. “It’s one thing to win the games, it’s another to play with such spirit and such enthusiasm, with your heads on right, with brains, playing smart. We played with great zeal, but at the same time played with great poise and composure as well.”
They also got a third straight impressive start on the mound, as Cody Glenn bounced back after not getting out of the second inning last Sunday against Missouri to give the Tigers six strong innings.
Mainieri had to remind everyone that the Wildcats (22-9, 6-6) came in with three starting left-handers with ERAs in the low 2.00s.
They didn’t leave that way.
For the weekend the Tigers hit .406 (41-101) and outscored the Wildcats 31-6. UK got only three runs in 22 innings against the Tigers’ starting pitching. LSU did not have an error in the three games.
Sunday followed a familiar script.
Kentucky scratched across a run in the top of the first for its only lead of the weekend, but it didn’t last long enough for UK starter Corey Littrell, the reigning SEC pitcher of the week after throwing a shutout last Sunday, to record an out.
“I almost thought it was a blessing when they scored that run in the first,” Mainieri said in that it kept the Tigers from getting complacent after dominating the first two games.
Not to worry.
The Tigers batted around in the bottom of the first and hit for the cycle while scoring five runs on four hits, including freshman shortstop Alex Bregman’s two-run triple and a two-run homer by second baseman JaCoby Jones. Mason Katz also had a sacrifice fly in the inning, which began with Sean McMullen’s leadoff double.
Bregman, who extended his hitting streak to 20 games and made back-to-back outstanding plays at shortstop, also had a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Jones, who came into the weekend mired in a prolonged slump, added an RBI single in the third and drove in another with a double in the seventh for four RBIs.
For the weekend Jones, who came in hitting .188, went 8-for-13 with six RBIs, three doubles and the home run.
McMullen, who Mainieri hopes is the answer to the puzzle that has been the Tigers’ leadoff spot, finished the weekend reaching base 10 times while going 4-for-8 with three walks and three times hit by a pitch. He scored five runs.
“I knew sooner or later it would happen,” Jones said. “To be honest, I don’t know what the difference was. I didn’t do anything different. I just tried to hit the ball hard and they starting falling.”
It was also redemption for Glenn, who was in danger of losing his spot in the rotation after getting roughed up in two of his first three SEC starts.
Mainieri, with plenty of bullpen at his disposal, was hoping only to get three or four good innings from Glenn after pitching coach Alan Dunn lobbied for the lefty to get another start.
But Glenn held the Wildcats to a single run on six hits for his six innings and probably could have gone longer but for the neglected bullpen needing some work.
“That was lagniappe,” Mainieri said. “Cody was fantastic. He really rose to the occasion. I watched him during the week (in practice) and thought he was pitching with more conviction.
“I thought he pitched that way to day. He wasn’t afraid to throw the ball over the plate.”
LSU led 9-1 before Kentucky’s A.J. Reed hit a three-run homer off reliever Nick Rumbelow in the seventh inning.