BATON ROUGE -- No. 8 LSU (1-0) plated nine runs in the first two innings and utilized solid pitching by sophomore starter Kevin Gausman to defeat visiting Air Force (0-2), 10-2, on Opening Day at Alex Box Stadium.
Gausman (1-0) picked up where he left off at the end of last season and fired six innings of one-run baseball. The right-handed limited the Falcons to four hits with seven strikeouts, two walks and one run.
"Kevin has been sharper than he was tonight," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, "and that's a tough thing to say when a guy gives up just one run with seven strikeouts. I thought he gave us an outstanding, competitive effort, and he can be even better the next time out."
LSU chased Air Force starter Ben Bertelson (0-1) in the second inning after the starter was only able to register three outs. Bertelson allowed eight earned on three hits, three walks, three hit batsman and struck out one.
"We didn't exactly knock the fences down at the plate," Mainieri said, "but I thought we were very opportunistic, especially early in the game. We took advantage of some situations and we were able to build a big lead. I thought once we got the eight-run lead, we might have relaxed a little bit and lost some of the edge."
Air Force kicked off the scoring on a first pitch home run to deep left-center by junior left fielder Garret Custons.
LSU responded in the bottom half of the inning by sending all nine batters to the plate and driving in five runs on only two hits. The Tigers loaded the bases after consecutive pitches hit Tyler Hanover and Casey Yocom and Raph Rhymes walked. Mason Katz was then hit by another pitch, which drove in Hanover.
Jackson Slaid delivered a RBI double that just dropped inside the right field line in front of the LSU bullpen. After JaCoby Jones struck out, Nola drove in Rhymes with a fielder's choice to the shortstop.
Ross stepped in and knocked a laser between shortstop and third to extend the lead to 5-1.
LSU's offense went back to work in the second, taking advantage of some walks and sending every batter to the plate for the second consecutive inning.
Yocum notched his first double and RBI as a Tiger and drove in Hanover after a leadoff walk.
A walk to Rhymes chased Bertelson, who yielded the mound to reliever Ben Yokley.
Yokley was able to retire Katz and Nola, but Jones pushed a single past an outstretched second baseman to plate Yocum and Rhymes. Jones moved to second on the throw, and was immediately driven in by Nola's single to center.
The offense went back to work in the bottom half of the fourth. Nola smacked a one-out double to deep center and moved to third on Ross' single to left. Jordy Snikeris' fielder choice brought Nola home, as Air Force was unable to turn the double play.
Air Force mustered its second run of the contest against freshman pitcher Aaron Nola. Custons reached second on a double to deep left center and Alex Bast drove him in on a single through the left side.
Nick Goody retired the three batters he faced to close out the ninth inning and preserve the win for LSU.
LSU 10, Air Force 2 (Feb 17, 2012 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Air Force........... 100 000 010 - 2 6 2 (0-2)
LSU................... 540 100 00X - 10 8 0 (1-0)
Pitchers: Air Force - BERTELSON, Ben; YOKLEY, Ben(2); BASKA, David(3); HOURIN, Jack(4);
DEL TORO, Todd(6); BAKER, Alex(8) and SICHER, Brian; AUSBUN, Taylor.
LSU - Kevin Gausman; Kevin Berry(7); Aaron Nola(8); Nick Goody(9) and Ty Ross; Tyler Moore.
Win-Kevin Gausman(1-0) Loss-BERTELSON, Ben(0-1) T-2:21 A-11376
HR AF - CUSTONS, Garrett (1).
Actual Attendance: 8006
BERTELSON faced 3 batters in the 2nd.