LSU fends off VMI in opener

Published 9:34 am Saturday, February 17, 2024

LSU’s season-opening defense of its national championship was quite a hit.

And almost as many hit batters as base hits for the Tigers.

But the Tigers needed six pitchers to hold off Virginia Military 11-8 Friday as the reigning national champions returned home to Alex Box Stadium.

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Jared Jones and Hayden Travinski hit home runs and right-hander Nate Ackenhausen, who got the win, gave the Tigers three strong innings in the middle of a back-and-forth game with four lead changes.

The Tigers had 12 hits and took advantage of eight hit batsmen — five of them during a five-run sixth inning when they took the lead for good.

LSU trailed 6-5 heading into the inning, which began appropriately enough when Paxton Kling was hit by a pitch. It was the first of the five plunks, including three straight with the bases loaded.

Newcomer left fielder Mac Bingham capped the inning with a two-run double for a 10-6 LSU lead.

LSU pitching combined for 14 strikeouts, but also gave up 11 hits. Two of the Keydets’ runs were unearned courtesy of a pair of errors.

Thatcher Hurd started for the Tigers and cruised through his first two innings. But after getting the first two outs in third, he gave up a walk and VMI put together four consecutive two-out hits to take a 4-3 lead.

That negated the three-run homer Jones hit in the second inning.

LSU answered with Kling’s two-run double in the bottom of the inning, but VMI retook the lead 6-5 with single runs in the fourth and fifth.

Travinski went 3-for-4, hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth.

Freshman Jake Brown of Sulphur singled off the first college pitch he saw and later scored in the sixth after he was hit by a pitch for the second time. He was 1-for-3.

Sophomore Gavin Guidry, from Barbe High, pitched two-thirds of an inning in the eighth, giving up one hit but no runs.