LSU sweeps long weekend

Published 8:07 am Tuesday, February 20, 2024

LSU freshman right-hander Kade Anderson gave LSU five strong innings and Jared Jones hit his third home run of the young season as the Tigers beat Central Arkansas 4-3 to complete a four-game, season-opening sweep against two teams.

After beating Virginia Military Institute 11-8 Friday, the Tigers battled through a bitter-cold 2-0 victory over Central Arkansas on Saturday, then tied a school record with 27 hits in a 27-5 shellacking of VMI on Sunday.

The first five Tigers who came to bat on Monday reached base in the first inning and the first three all scored.

Email newsletter signup

But after leaving the bases loaded, Jones’ towering home run to lead off the third inning was all the scoring the Tigers could muster after UCA brought in Gavi Alvetti. He held the Tigers to two hits over the final 51/3 innings.

“I thought we improved throughout this first weekend,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “We showed we can win in different ways, and I always want that to be a staple of our program. We demonstrated the depth of our roster, both with our position players and in the bullpen.”

The games were certainly different.

LSU pitching struck out 49 batters in the four games.

But it was a decidedly mixed bag, particularly during Sunday’s rout when it didn’t matter.

That game was called after seven innings due to a mercy rule in effect after LSU limited VMI to two hits.

Neither of the hits figured in the five runs the Keydets scored, but the Tigers walked 12 in the game, 10 over the final four innings.

“The strike zone is the game,” Johnson said. “They know that. When they get deep into counts … they need to throw more strikes.”

The biggest offender was highly touted freshman Cam Johnson, who allowed four of the five runs without allowing a hit in his one-plus inning of work. He walked three after taking over in the fourth inning, leading to one run. He was responsible for three more runs after walking the based loaded to open the fifth before his head coach pulled him.

It was no problem in the game against VMI as eight Tigers had multiple hits even though Johnson was able to empty the bench over the final innings.

Brady Neal led the onslaught with six RBIs while going 4-for-4 with a grand slam and a two-run double.

Saturday’s pitching duel against Central Arkansas featured the LSU debut of right-hander Luke Holman, the Alabama transfer who struck out 10 in 51/3 scoreless innings allowing three hits.

Two of the weekend’s top hitters were freshmen.

Sulphur’s Jake Brown, who didn’t play in Saturday’s game, went 3-for-3 Sunday against VMI and 2-for-4 Monday to finish his first college series 6-for-10 (.600). Another freshman, second baseman Steven Milam, was 4-for-4 in Sunday’s game with four runs scored and three RBIs.

On Monday, Anderson allowed three hits and one run in four innings while striking out six.

“I thought Kade was great, and it’s awesome that he’s here,” Johnson said. “He’s a great pitcher and competitor, and he’s got the right character make-up and maturity to get out on the mound and do what he did today.”

LSU hosts Northern Illinois on Thursday.