Grand time in Hoover, LSU slams Kentucky

Published 8:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

Heading into last weekend, LSU had one grand slam all season.

The Tigers have had three since then, including two in Wednesday’s 11-0 run-rule victory over third-seeded Kentucky as LSU won its second consecutive SEC Tournament game in Hoover, Alabama.

Tommy White and Jared Jones both went deep with the bases loaded, the first time in SEC Tournament history that a team has hit two grand slams in a game.

Email newsletter signup

They were two of the four home runs the Tigers hit, including shortstop Michael Braswell’s solo shot to lead off the game. Jayden Travinski’s also had a solo homer one out after White’s slam broke the game open in the seventh.

But the power surge almost got lost in what LSU starter Luke Holman did on the mound.

He had a tough act to follow after left-hander Gage Jump limited Georgia to one hit in his seven innings of the Tigers 9-1 win over Georgia in the opening game of the tournament.

Holman no-hit the Wildcats (39-13), which went into the game leading the SEC in hitting during conference play, until he was pulled after six innings and 100 pitches.

“Winning starts and ends on the mound,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “For the second day in a row, I believe we had one of the best pitchers in the country.

“His poise, presence, mound demeanor, focus level, maturity is as good as anybody I’ve coached. Obviously, he’s the real deal.”

The Tigers (38-20), the No. 11 seed, stayed in the winners bracket of the double-elimination portion of the tournament and will face No. 10 South Carolina (35-21) at 4:30 p.m. today. The Gamecocks held off No. 2 Arkansas 6-5 Wednesday.

The LSU-USC winner gets a day off Friday before advancing to Saturday’s semifinals. The loser will play an elimination game Friday against the winner of Thursday’s Arkansas-Kentucky elimination game.

“It was a close game until the seventh,” Kentucky head coach Chuck Mingione said. “Give their starter (Holman) credit, he did a great job, kept a really good offense offbalance for a long period of time.”

“I think I really mixed well,” Holman said. “Fastball was a little iffy, but even when I was behind on hitters, I was able to stay in the zone and able to mix it up even from behind (in the count).”

Holman, who struck out seven and walked two, had a 2-0 lead when he left after the sixth inning.

But by the time former Barbe High pitcher Gavin Guidry came in for the bottom of the seventh, it was 7-0 and 11-0 an inning later.

White, who also had a grand slam Saturday in the regular season finale against Ole Miss — LSU’s first since the opening weekend — slammed another over the right-field fence for a 6-0 lead in the seventh. Moments later Travinski broke out a slump with a towering blast over the left-field wall.

Kentucky intentionally walked White to load the bases in the ninth and Jared Jones responded with his grand slam, the first hit of the tournament for another Tiger in a mini-slump.

“That felt good,” Jones said. “I was just making sure it was fair. To break open the game and run-rule them in eight innings, to save pitching is huge.

“We’re looking forward to building off that.”

LSU vs. South Carolina

4:30 p.m. / SEC Network

RECORDS: LSU 38-20, South Carolina 35-21.

Pitching Matchup


Team Batting (SEC)

LSU BA: .285 (7), HR: 99 (5), SB: 37-51 (11). USC BA: .275 (10), HR: 90 (6), SB: 61-74 (4).

Team Pitching (SEC)

LSU ERA: 4.26 (5), OBA: .232 (3), BB: 227 (T10), SO: 615 (2), IP: 5022/3. USC ERA: 5.01 (6), OBA: .244 (8), BB: 227 (10), SO: 535 (9), IP: 4862/3.

Team Fielding (SEC)

LSUFld. Pct.: .978 (7), DP: 34 (5), USC Fld. Pct.: .975 (11), DP: 44 (1).