Defense and Pitching Help LSU Edge Auburn, 3-2
BATON ROUGE, La.-After a two-hour rain delay, top-ranked LSU defeated Auburn, 3-2, in Game 1 of an SEC series at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU improved to 30-5 overall and 9-4 in the SEC with its seventh straight victory. Auburn dropped to 20-14 overall and 4-9 in conference play.
LSU and Auburn return to action for Game 2 of the series tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. CT. Freshman right-hander Austin Bain (0-0, 2.45 ERA, 25 SO) will take the mound for LSU, while Auburn will counter with sophomore right-hander Keegan Thompson.
Saturday's game will be available online through the SECNetwork+, Watch ESPN and the WatchESPN app. The game may be heard live in the Geaux Zone and on LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates in the state.
"It was another typical SEC game where the records and the stats don't matter," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "We had some good fortune and played great defense and we were able to earn a hard-fought victory. Auburn's starting pitcher was very good; he mixed three different pitches and had a really hard curveball, and he was very tough on our hitters."
Sophomore left-hander Jared Poche' (6-1) got the win for LSU and went 5.2 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs with five strikeouts. Sophomore right-hander Cole Lipscomb (4-1) was charged with the loss for Auburn after working seven innings and allowing three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts.
Auburn got on the board in the top of the first inning. Catcher Blake Logan doubled to deep left center to score leadoff hitter Anfernee Grier, giving Auburn a 1-0 lead. Leftfielder Bo Decker hit an RBI single to right to extend the lead to 2-0.
In the bottom half of the inning, rightfielder Mark Laird doubled to left to give LSU runners on second and third. On the next play, shortstop Alex Bregman hit an RBI ground out to second to score Jake Fraley for LSU's first run of the game. Two batters later, Kade Scivicque blasted a two-out double off the left field wall to drive in Laird, extending his hit streak to 18 games and tying the game at 2-2.
LSU took the lead for good in the second, as Laird's RBI single to left drove in Chris Sciambra from third to give the Tigers the 3-2 lead.
In the top of the fourth, LSU's defense stepped up as Bregman threw out Melvin Gray at home after a Grier double, complete a spectacular 8-6-2 putout. Grier advanced to third on the throw, but Poche' struck out Damon Haecker to strand the tying run for Auburn.
In the sixth, sophomore right-hander Hunter Newman entered the game in relief of Poche' and found himself in an early jam with runners on first and second. Newman struck out Grier on a full count for the third out.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Lipscomb walked Conner Hale to load the bases with only one out. LSU was unable to take advantage as Scivicque and Chris Chinea were both retired to end the inning.
LSU would hold strong, as Newman pitched the rest of the way in one of his best career outings, retiring ten consecutive batters through the final 3.1 innings to earn his first save of the season, securing the win for LSU.
"Hunter Newman is such a great story," Mainieri said. "He had shoulder surgery and had to miss last season, but he has come on so strong this spring. He's really become our go-to guy out of the bullpen, and he gave us a tremendous outing tonight."