LSU Defeats Missouri, 4-2, in SEC Opener
Communications Student Assistant
BATON ROUGE, La. – On the opening night of SEC play, No. 16 LSU defeated 24th-ranked Missouri, 4-2, on Friday night at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU moves to 13-6 overall and 1-0 in the SEC, while Missouri falls to 14-4 and 0-1.
The second game of the three-game set against Missouri will take place tomorrow at 6 p.m. CT. The contest will be televised on the SEC Network, and it can be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.
Sophomore right-hander Zack Hess (3-2) pitched six strong innings for the Tigers, striking out eight batters over six innings of work and giving up two runs, as he earned the win. Junior left-hander Nick Bush pitched two scoreless innings in relief before handing the ball over in the ninth inning to Austin Bain in the ninth, who earned his second save of the year.
“The story of this game was Zack Hess, he was absolutely dominating through six innings,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He wasn’t missing by much when he walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning, so I told him to flush that from his mind because he was absolutely awesome for six innings. He proved that he is a Friday night starter in the Southeastern Conference.”
Right-hander Bryce Montes De Oca (3-1) pitched six innings for Missouri and he suffered his first loss of the season. Montes De Oca walked the bases loaded to begin the bottom of the first inning, as LSU was able to scratch across two runs. He gave up three runs on two hits and seven walks with five strikeouts.
Montes De Oca walked Zach Watson, Brandt Broussard and Antoine Duplantis to open the first inning before Bain grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing Watson to cross home plate and give LSU the early lead. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded again, Chris Reid drew a walk, allowing Broussard to score and give LSU a 2-0 advantage.
“Missouri had won nine games in a row, and they had great success when taking early leads,” Mainieri said. “Hess shutting them down in the first and our team scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning was huge for us and set the tone for the game.”
Missouri threatened in the top of the third when it loaded the bases with two outs, but Hess struck out cleanup hitter Brian Sharp to record his fifth strikeout of the game.
With one out in the bottom of the third, leftfielder Beau Jordan blasted his fourth homer of the season to left field, extending the LSU lead to 3-0.
Hess walked the first three batters of the seventh in and Bush replaced him on the mound. Chris Cornelius hit a sacrifice-fly to right field which plated Zach Hanna, putting Missouri on the board. Trey Harris then hit a high bouncer to LSU shortstop Hal Hughes, and the only play Hughes had was to across to first, allowing Mark Vierling to come home for Missouri.
In the bottom of the eighth, with two outs and Reid on third, Watson smashed a double down the left-field line against reliever Nile Ball, marking the first hit with runners in scoring position by either team.
Watson’s hit gave LSU a two-run lead going into the ninth, and Bain was called upon to close the game, recording two strikeouts while earning the save.
“We had several scoring opportunities throughout the game that we couldn’t convert,” Mainieri said. “Fortunately, Zach came through with that big hit in the eighth to give us a two-run lead going into the ninth inning.”
HAS THAT BALL LANDED YET? 🧐— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) March 17, 2018
Beau Jordan rocked his fourth homer of the season over the left field landing to give LSU the 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third!
💻: https://t.co/TzdniQ8T25 pic.twitter.com/4IkuW4pODr