LSU baseball blasts Southern, takes national lead on home runs
Eighth-ranked LSU smashed four home runs Wednesday night, and freshman Will Hellmers pitched five shutout innings to pace the Tigers to a 16-1 win over Southern in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
Earlier in the day, first baseman Tre’ Morgan’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Tigers to a 5-4 walk-off win over Nicholls.
LSU (8-1) increased its win streak to seven games with Wednesday’s victories. Nicholls dropped to 2-5 and Southern fell to 1-6 with the losses.
The Tigers remain at home this weekend as they take on Oral Roberts in a three-game series, with Game 1 set to begin at 7 p.m. CT Friday.
Hellmers (2-0) held Southern scoreless through five innings, allowing just two hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Southern starter Daren Smith (0-1) was charged with the loss as he surrendered three runs on one hit in 0.1 inning with three walks and one strikeout.
“Southern had trouble throwing strikes early, and they had a couple of miscues, and basically we just took advantage of that. Will Hellmers was dominating and very efficient on the mound. He just threw strikes, and we played solid defense behind him.”
The Tigers blasted four homers in the nightcap, one each by Morgan, rightfielder Dylan Crews, second baseman Zach Arnold and third baseman Jordan Thompson. LSU already has a total 21 homers in only nine games this season.
“We hit four home runs, including the third homer of the season each for Arnold and Thompson, and I didn’t expect that kind of power from those guys,” Mainieri said. “Overall, it was a good win to complete a long day, but a productive day, for us.”
In Game 1, after Nicholls tied the contest at 4-4 in the top of the ninth, the Tigers responded with a run in the bottom of the frame to earn their second walk-off win in three games.
Arnold provided a one-out single, pinch hitter Hayden Travinski walked, and Crews walked to load the bases. Morgan then delivered a sacrifice fly to left field to score Arnold with the winning run.
“It was a tough ball game, and I expected that,” Mainieri said. “Nicholls played great, they pitched well, and they battled us. It was an nip-and-tuck game the whole way, and I thought Tre’ Morgan going against a tough left-hander in the ninth and hitting the sac fly was a great at-bat by a special freshman.”
LSU reliever Devin Fontenot (1-0) was credited with the win after working the top of the ninth inning and recording one strikeout. Colonels reliever Joe Taylor (0-2) was charged with the loss after allowing one run on one hit in 1.2 innings with one walk and two strikeouts.
Crews and centerfielder Brody Drost launched homers in the first game, and Drost was 2-for-3 in the contest with one homer, one double and two RBI.
Freshman right-hander Blake Money was brilliant in relief against Nicholls, entering the game in the second inning and firing 4.1 shutout innings with no walks and four strikeouts.
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