BATON ROUGE - A pair of home runs by junior Mikie Mahtook coupled with a solid start from senior pitcher Ben Alsup propelled the No. 15 LSU Tigers past Wake Forest, 15-4, in the season-opener on Friday in front of a record crowd of 10,055 fans at Alex Box Stadium.
With the win, LSU has now won its 10th straight season opener. The Tigers (1-0) will square off against the Demon Deacons (0-1) in Game 2 of the three game series Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. CST. Freshman right-hander Kevin Gausman will make his Tiger debut on the mound, and Wake Forest will counter with sophomore lefty Tim Cooney.
"It was a fantastic way to open the season," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "I thought we played with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, and we swung the bats really well. Our fans were here in record numbers, and they made it a special night."
The Alex Box Stadium crowd gave Wake Forest coach Tom Walker a standing ovation prior to the contest. Walter on February 7 donated his kidney to Deacon freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan, who is now on the road to a successful recovery. Jordan suffered from a rare disease that affected his kidneys known as ANCA vasculitis.
Alsup (1-0) picked up the win Friday for the Tigers, allowing only one run on five hits in five innings of work. Austin Stadler (0-1) received the loss was charged with the loss as he allowed 13 runs (seven earned) on 11 hits in three innings with one walk and four strikeouts.
"Alsup was the real story of this game," Mainieri said. "He worked out of a jam early, and then I thought he really settled in and pitched very effectively."
LSU's talented freshmen didn't have to wait long to make an impact. Freshman Raph Rhymes when 2-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs for the Tigers as the designated hitter, and freshman second baseman JaCoby Jones drove in a run on a pair of hits in his LSU debut. Off the bench, freshman two-sport athlete Spencer Ware added an RBI single to go along with a walk.
Freshman pitcher Nick Rumbelow added three innings of relief work in his first action as a Tiger.
Both teams loaded the bases in the first inning, but it was the Tigers who would take advantage.
After the first three Deacons reached base to start the game, Alsup settled in and retired the next three in order to keep Wake Forest off the board.
LSU wouldn't let its opportunity go to waste. Rhymes was the first Tiger to reach base as he ripped a single to center field, and junior Tyler Hanover followed with a grounder up the middle of his own. Stadler then walked Mahtook on four straight pitches to load the bases, and Nola drove in the first run for LSU with a hard-hit single to third base, scoring Rhymes from third and leaving the bases full.
Katz extended the lead to 3-0 with a two-run double to the center field wall, scoring Hanover and Mahtook and advancing Nola to third. A sacrifice fly by Alex Edward would give LSU a 4-0 lead, and an error by Wake Forest's Pat Blair at short would give the Tigers a 5-0 advantage. An RBI single by freshman Ty Ross gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead to close out the first.
LSU doubled its lead in the bottom of the second inning, putting up a second six-run frame. With two outs and no one on base, Mahtook drilled a 3-1 pitch into the left field bleachers to put the Tigers up 7-0. Back-back doubles down the third base line by Nola and Katz gave the Tigers an 8-0 advantage, and a pair of Deacon errors extended the inning.
A high pop-up into right was dropped by Wake Forest second baseman Mark Rhine, which allowed two more Tigers to cross the plate and increased the LSU lead to 10-0. Jones followed with a single to left, and an error by Deacon first baseman Matt Conway on a ground ball by Watkins loaded the bases. Rhymes would make them pay for their mistakes, ripping his second single of the night up the middle to put LSU up 12-0.
Mahtook then led off the bottom of the 3rd with a bang, blasting his second home run of the game into the left field bleachers to extend the LSU lead to 13-0.
Wake Forest got on the board in the top of the fifth with an RBI single by Conway, but the Tigers would respond in the bottom of the frame. Following a leadoff walk to Hanover and a double down the right field line by Nola, Ware blooped an RBI single into right field, scoring Hanover to put the Tigers up 14-1. A balk by reliever Brian Holmes allowed Nola to cross to the plate and gave LSU a 15-1 advantage through five.
Conway connected for a two-RBI single in the top of the seventh off of Rumbelow, and Morgan followed with an RBI double to make the score 15-4.
LSU 15, Wake Forest 4 (Feb 18, 2011 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Wake Forest......... 000 010 300 - 4 7 3 (0-1)
LSU..................... 661 020 00X - 15 13 2 (1-0)
Pitchers: Wake Forest - Austin Stadler; Gabe Feldman(4); Brian Holmes(5); Daniel Marrs(7);
Zach White(8) and Mike Lubanski.
LSU - Ben Alsup; Nick Rumbelow(6); Kevin Berry(9) and Ty Ross; Jordy Snikeris.
Win-Ben Alsup(1-0) Loss-Austin Stadler(0-1) T-2:57 A-12070
HR LSU - Mikie Mahtook 2 (2).
Actual attendance: 10,055
Actual attendance of 10,055 is an Alex Box Stadium record. Paid attendance of 12,070 is the second-largest paid figure in stadium history.