TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Sophomore right fielder Mason Katz went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs while left fielder Trey Watkins tied a career high with three hits to pace a 14-hit LSU attack as the Tiger baseball team won its sixth straight game and took the series opener from Alabama by a score of 10-6 on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
LSU (30-18, 8-14 SEC) scored in each of the first five innings to build a 10-1 advantage on the Crimson Tide, who dropped to 28-20 overall and 10-12 in conference play.
"I told the guys after the game, through the first five innings and (Raph) Rhymes at-bat to leadoff the top of the sixth inning, these were several of our best at-bats of the year," said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "Not only did we hit the ball hard, we had a great approach at the plate. We had good situational hitting, clutch hitting and two-out hitting - all of those things that you preach."
The Tigers will send freshman right-hander Kevin Gausman (3-5, 4.36 ERA) to the mound in Game 2 in hopes of securing the series victory at 3 p.m. CT Saturday. He will be opposed by junior lefty Adam Morgan (4-4, 4.30 ERA). The contest will be broadcast on CSS and carried by Cox 4 in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette.
Freshman right-hander Kurt McCune (6-3) turned in another quality outing on Friday night, scattering 10 hits and allowed five runs - four earned - in seven innings to pick up the win. McCune struck out five and did not walk a batter before exiting in the eighth.
Watkins and Katz, LSU's first and second batters, combined to go 6-for-10 with five RBI and four runs scored. Freshman JaCoby Jones went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and first baseman Grant Dozar added two hits and a pair of runs.
The Tigers chased Alabama starter Nathan Kilcrease (5-4) after 1.2 innings. Kilcrease, who struggled to find the strike zone early, allowed four runs on five hits while walking three. Tide relievers Trey Pilkington and Adam Windsor combined to allow six runs.
LSU increased a 1-0 lead to 4-0 in the third when Katz drove a two-run double to the wall and Raph Rhymes ripped a two-out RBI single to left. Dozar later lined a double down the right field line and came across to score of Ty Ross' groundout.
The Tigers struck again in the fourth to make it 5-0. Watkins accounted for his first triple of the season and touched home on a Katz single. The duo did it again in the fifth as LSU sent eight men to the plate in a four-run frame. Tyler Hanover, Dozar and Jones all accounted for singles and Watkins laced his third hit of the game into centerfield. After Katz' sacrifice fly, McCune had a 10-1 lead to work with.
Alabama made it interesting in the eighth when it cut the deficit to 10-5 after McCune was greeted with four straight hits to the start the inning. Jared Reaves and Patrick McGavin each had RBI singles while a wild throw from Hanover on a relay sailed to the backstop to allow another run.
McCune gave way to reliever Kevin Berry who fired the final two innings, allowing a run on two hits to preserve the win.