McCune, HR's Give Baseball Sweep of Wake Forest
BATON ROUGE - A stellar one-hit effort from freshman Kurt McCune and a pair of three-run homers by junior Mike Mahtook and sophomore Mason Katz fueled the No. 15 LSU baseball team past Wake Forest, 9-1, to complete the series sweep on Sunday in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU will take the field on Tuesday at home against the University of New Orleans with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. CST. Junior right-hander Tyler Jones will start the game on the mound for the Tigers.
With the win, the Tigers (3-0) have now swept all three home-opening series at the new Alex Box Stadium. LSU swept Villanova to open the season in 2009, and won three-straight against Centenary to start the season in 2010.
Wake Forest drops to 0-3 on the season with the loss.
"Overall, I was very pleased with the way we played this weekend; it was a good way to start the season," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "Kurt McCune was exceptional today, and it was really no surprise to us because he's pitched that way since fall practice. He has very good velocity and he comes at you on a downward plane, so he can throw the ball right by people.
"The pitching throughout the weekend was very effective, and it appears this staff has a lot of depth that we hope to utilize as the season progresses."
McCune (1-0) earned the victory in his Tiger debut with a dominant six innings of work, allowing just the one hit to go along with seven strikeouts and only two walks. Justin Van Grouw (0-1) gave up five runs on four hits and received the loss for the Demon Deacons.
McCune was the second freshman pitcher to pick up a win for the Tigers this weekend, as fellow freshman Ryan Eades earned the victory in LSU's 4-3 win on Saturday.
The Norco, La., native had a no-hitter through 5.1 innings of work until Wake Forest second baseman Mark Rhine hit a well-placed ball just between third and short for an infield single.
Mahtook's three-run blast was his fourth homer of the series and young season as the first-team pre-season All-American drilled two solo shots on Friday and added another on Saturday. Katz's three-run home run was his first of the season.
Along with Katz and Mahtook, junior Tyler Hanover went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, and junior Trey Watkins' bat finally came alive as the Montz, La., product went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a two runs scored to help lead the Tigers' offense.
Both pitchers were dialed in to start the game as neither allowed a hit through 2 ½ innings of play, but LSU was finally able to crack Van Grouw in the bottom of the third inning.
Ty Ross walked to lead off the inning for the Tigers, and used a ground and balk to work his way to third. Watkins then delivered an RBI single up the middle to score Ross and give LSU a 1-0 lead. An errant throw to first on a pickoff attempt allowed Watkins to reach second, but he wouldn't be there long as Raph Rhymes connected for an RBI standup double into the right field corner to put the Tigers up 2-0.
A Hanover single to left put runners at the corners before Mahtook blew the game open with his three-run dinger to left center to give LSU a 5-0 lead.
LSU extend its lead to 9-0 in the home half of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Austin Nola lifted a sac fly to deep center to score Watkins from third and put the Tigers up 6-0. Katz then followed with a three-run homer of his own into the left field bleachers to give LSU the nine-run advantage.
Wake Forest's lone run was unearned and came in the top of the ninth on a hard hit ball by Jack Carey that was misplayed at third by LSU's Matt Fury, allowing Deacon left fielder Mac Williamson, who doubled to lead off the inning, to cross the plate.