LSU defeats Cincinnati 12-4; Sweeps opening series of 2016 season
BATON ROUGE, La. – Fifth-ranked LSU blasted four home runs and collected 10 hits Sunday to defeat Cincinnati, 12-4, and sweep the series at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU improved to 3-0, while Cincinnati dropped to 0-3 ton conclude the opening weekend of the 2016 season.
LSU will travel to Beaumont, Texas, on Wednesday to face Lamar. The game will be televised on Cox Sports Televisoin and will also be broadcast live on 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and LSU Sport Radio Network affiliates. Fans can also go to LSUsports.net for live stats and audio through the GeauxZone.
LSU senior starter John Valek III (1-0) made his debut in Purple and Gold, earning the win after throwing 5.2 innings and give up four runs, two earned. The southpaw only allowed four hits and struck out seven.
“I thought Valek did a very credible job out there today,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He was a little nervous at first, but he settled in and pitched very effectively. He’s not a strikeout pitcher, but he did a nice job of keeping their hitters off balance and ended up with seven strikeouts.”
Bearcats reliever A.J. Olasz (0-1) suffered the loss after surrendering three runs—two earned—in 2.1 innings pitched.
The Tigers hit four home runs in Sunday’s win, which marked the most dingers in a game for LSU since the Tigers belted five home runs in a 27-0 win over Northwestern State on May 13, 2014.
“The bats really came alive today, and we played the way we’re capable of offensively,” Mainieri said. “Early in the game, it looked like we had good pitches to hit, and we were just mis-hitting some balls. Then, we started to square some balls up and drive them out of the park.”
The Tigers’ home run power surge was led by junior DH Bryce Adams, who launched a grand slam, and by junior catcher Jordan Romero, who hit a solo homer to cap a 3-for-4 weekend at the plate with four RBI, including a game-winning walk-off single on Friday night. A two-run blast by freshman third baseman O’Neal Lochridge in the fourth inning broke a 2-2 and gave the Tigers the lead for good.
Cincinnati was quick to drive in two runs in the top of the first on a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly to give the Bearcats the early 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second with two outs, Cincinnati freshman left-hander Cam Alldred issued four consecutive walks to score centerfielder Jake Fraley. LSU trailed Cincinnati 2-1 after one inning.
The Tigers tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third after first baseman Bryce Jordan scored from third on a sacrifice fly by Romero.
LSU took the lead in the fourth inning after right fielder Antoine Duplantis reached on an error and Lochridge hit his first career home run into the left field bleachers, giving the Tigers the 4-2 advantage.
In the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded and no outs, Adams took the first pitch from reliever Jack Bergren over the fence for his first his first hit of the season. Duplantis followed Adams’ grand slam with a single to left and scored from third on a single by shortstop Cole Freeman to put LSU up 9-2.
Cincinnati third baseman Devin Wenzel led off the top of the sixth with a solo home run, and catcher Woody Wallace followed with a two-out solo home run, cutting into LSU’s 9-4 lead.
LSU extended its lead to 12-4 in the bottom of the six after Fraley led off the inning with a single and Beau Jordan and Romero hit back-to-back home runs.
Junior right-hander Russell Reynolds worked 1.1 innings, gave up one hit and struck out three. Doug Norman, a sophomore right-hander, pitched a scoreless eighth inning and gave up one walk. Freshman Cole McKay made his LSU debut, pitching 0.1 innings, allowing two hits and walking one.
Left-hander Hunter Devall pitched the remainder of the ninth and struck out one.
“Overall, I was very pleased with the way we played this weekend,” Mainieri said. “There are areas of concern, of course, but I liked the way our players competed, and I’m looking forward to seeing this team continue to develop