BATON ROUGE -- Shortstop D.J. LeMahieu and first baseman Matt Clark each blasted two-run home runs in the sixth inning Friday night, and the Tiger pitching staff allowed only three hits as LSU defeated Duquesne, 10-1, in Alex Box Stadium.
A cool evening attracted a paid attendance of 7,211 to the stadium for Game 1 of the weekend series.
With second baseman Ryan Schimpf at second, the true freshman LeMahieu belted an opposite field shot over the right field wall. Then, after a single by left fielder Blake Dean, Clark, who finished 3-for-4, drilled a homer to right to give the Tigers a 10-1 lead. The two dingers marked the first career homers for both LeMahieu and Clark at LSU and put the game out of reach for the Dukes.
“It’s really nice to see a couple of balls get hit out of the ballpark tonight,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “When Clark hit that first one it almost knocked the fence down instead of going over the fence. It was only a matter of time for him. He’s too good of a hitter.
“I was really happy to see D.J. hit one out too,” Mainieri added. “D.J. is going to be a heck of a player for us, and for him to get his first home run will take a big lift off his shoulders.”
The Tigers (5-1) won their third straight game. All nine Tiger starters collected at least one base hit. The Dukes (0-4) remain winless on the season.
LSU right-hander Jared Bradford (2-0) earned the win after pitching six solid innings. The senior allowed one unearned run and struck out seven.
The Tigers struck first in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI single off the bat of Dean. The sophomore drove in Schimpf, who led off the inning with a single past diving second baseman Bill Torre.
After throwing two quick, scoreless innings, Bradford had trouble finding the strike zone in the top of the third. Catcher Dante Plassio took first base on a leadoff walk, and right fielder Derek Fallecker reached on a fielding error by third baseman Michael Hollander, advancing Plassio to second. Torre put down a perfectly placed bunt single down the third base line, and the Dukes loaded the bases with no outs.
Bradford had an uphill battle in front of him, but the senior regained his composure and took control of the inning. The righty traded one run for two outs as third baseman Anthony Manley pounded Bradford’s hard sinker into the ground, inducing a 6-4-3 double play. Then, with a runner on third and a 3-2 count at the plate, Bradford fanned first baseman Aaron Janusey to end the inning. The Dukes tied the game, 1-1 but failed to capitalize on a potential big inning.
The Tiger bats heated up in the bottom of the fourth, placing three more runs on the board. After consecutive singles by Clark and catcher Sean Ochinko, designated hitter Matt Gaudet lined a single to center field to plate Clark. Right fielder Nicholas Pontiff followed up Gaudet’s RBI with a blistering double off the wall in left, scoring Ochinko. Gaudet was thrown out at the plate on the play.
Hollander singled to left, driving in Pontiff for the third run of the inning. The Tigers recaptured the lead, 4-1.
Meanwhile, Bradford continued to make great pitches in the clutch. With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the fifth, the senior struck out Janusey for the second time in the game.
“He (Bradford) pitches well consistently, but he just always seems to rise up and make a big pitch when he needs to at a critical time,” Mainieri said.
“There were some specific times in the game where the game could have taken a different route had he not made the pitch at that time, and he’s done that in his one-plus years here at LSU. I’m just glad he’s on our team, that’s for sure.”
The Tigers added six more runs with a two-run double by outfielder Leon Landry and the two-run homers by LeMahieu and Clark.
Duquesne pitcher Ryan Juran (0-2) was credited with the loss. The righty surrendered 11 hits and eight earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched.
The Tigers return to action Saturday at 2 p.m. for Game 2 of the weekend series. The game can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network (WDGL 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge), and live video and audio of the contest will be available on the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net.
Junior right-hander Jordan Brown (1-0) will start on the mound for the Tigers.
LSU 10, Duquesne 1 (Feb 29, 2008 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Duquesne............ 001 000 000 - 1 3 0 (0-4)
LSU..................... 100 324 00X - 10 13 3 (5-1)
Pitchers: Duquesne - Ryan Juran; Lawrence Anderson(6). LSU - Jared Bradford; Nolan Cain(7);
Louis Coleman(8); Ben Alsup(9).
Win-Jared Bradford(2-0) Loss-Ryan Juran(0-2) T-2:35 A-7211
HR LSU - DJ LeMahieu (1); Matt Clark (1).
Weather: 66 degrees and cloudy
Actual attendance: 2,857