Skenes delivers dominant performance in 7-2 Tigers win

Published 7:16 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

BATON ROUGE — LSU didn’t take any chances in its NCAA regional opener against Tulane, sending ace Paul Skenes to the mound.

Skenes delivered with a dominant performance in a 7-2 Tigers win, striking out 12 while throwing his first nine-inning complete game of the season. 

LSU (33-15) advances to face the winner of the Sam Houston State-Oregon State game in the winner’s bracket game at 8 p.m. tonight.

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Tulane (19-41) will play the Sam Houston State-Oregon State loser in an elimination game at 2 p.m. today.

Tigers head coach Jay Johnson said he considered saving Skenes but decided that throwing him in the first game would help the staff through the weekend.

“I felt really good about what he could do today, impacting us winning the game,” Johnson said. “There’s some other value in what he did today, it should help the rest of the pitchers the rest of the way.”

The Tigers played sparkling defense behind Skenes, with Brayden Jobert making a leaping catch against the right field wall to start a double play and Jordan Thompson making a diving catch on a pop-up to prevent a hit.

Skenes got in on the act himself, snaring a line drive between his legs to start a double play.

“I was tired of them hitting it up the middle and said I was going to catch one,” he said. “And, I did.”

Dylan Crews and Tommy White singled to lead off the bottom of the first. White was erased on a double play but Hayden Travinski doubled with two outs to score Crews.

The Tigers added two more in the second on a Josh Pearson fielder’s choice to score Gavin Dugas and two-out double by Crews to score Brayden Jobert.

In the third the Tigers again started the inning with two on and no outs. Travinski hit a leadoff single and scored on a grounder by Jobert to increase the Tiger lead to 4-0.

A pair of sacrifice flies by Dugas and Pearson extended the lead to 6-0 in the fifth.

Tulane got on the board in the seventh inning on a two-out, two-run opposite field homer to right by Brennan Lambert.

Travinski walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning to cap the scoring.

“(Skenes) pitched really well,” Tulane head coach Jay Uhlman said. “I think our guys were up to the challenge. Lambert put a charge into one to get us close. We live to fight another day and will be back to fight tomorrow.”

Uhlman said Skenes, who stands six foot, six inches tall, uses his size to his advantage.

“He’s a tall glass of water,” Uhlman said. “When you are big like that you create angles and sometimes that makes it difficult to square guys up. He’s a horse. I’m surprised he hadn’t gone longer than seven innings before. He’s a competitive kid.”