McCune, Baseball Continue Solid Play, 8-1
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU (32-19, 10-16) took advantage of five Tennessee (23-26, 5-21) errors Saturday and freshman right-hander Kurt McCune hurled 7.2 innings to pace the Tigers to an 8-1 victory in Alex Box Stadium.
The victory was LSU's eighth in its last 10 games. The Tigers also extended their home winning streak to eight games.
The Tigers' offense was alive for the second straight game and cranked out 16 hits, including 14 against Tennessee starter Nick Blount (1-4).
McCune (7-3) gave up four hits and struck out two. He nearly matched Friday night's shutout by fellow freshman Kevin Gasuman. The Tigers have allowed one run on eight hits during the first two games of the series.
"It certainly make things easier when you have a well-pitched ball game," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, "and that's certainly what Kurt McCune gave us today. I thought his performance was extremely impressive and on the same level as Gausman's outing last night. Kurt wasn't too happy with me when I took him out in the eighth inning because he wanted to finish the game, but I thought it was important to give other pitchers some work.
"I really like the way we're playing right now; we've definitely gotten better over the past few weeks. We've won eight of our last 10, and I think if we continue to play well and reach the postseason, we have a chance to make some noise."
The Tigers jumped out on Blount early in the first inning. Trey Watkins reached base on a leadoff error by shortstop Khayyan Norfork, and proceeded to steal second. Mikie Mahtook delivered a single to right field that plated Watkins who beat the tag at home plate.
Tennessee responded in the top of the second when Chris Fritts stepped up to the plate with runners on the corners and knocked a single down the third base line to bring home Drew Steckenrider.
That was all the Vols could muster against McCune. He would go on to retire nine straight and 15 of the next 17 batters.
LSU quickly answered the Vols' run in the second. Alex Edward and Grant Dozar led off the inning with consecutive singles. JaCoby Jones' sacrifice bunt attempt was mishandled by catcher Wes Walker and overthrown past first. Steckenrider's throw to second sailed over the head of Norfork, scoring Edward and Dozar.
Dozar led off the bottom of the fourth with a triple, but got caught in a run down following Watkins' ground out. Watkins was able to reach second on the play, and he scored when Raph Rhymes doubled to the gap in left center.
Mahtook led off the fifth with a triple to deep right. Tyler Hanover knocked him in two batters later on a hard grounder to short to increase the lead to 5-1.
The Tigers closed the door in the bottom of the seventh. Rhymes and Mason Katz led off with back-to-back to singles and were moved over on Mahtook's groundout. Austin Nola's sacrifice fly brought home Rhymes.
Hanover drilled a grounder off the mound that was misplayed by second baseman Josh Liles. Norfork scooped up the ball and overthrew the first baseman, scoring Katz and moving Hanover to third. Edward's single up the middle knocked in Hanover.
Mahtook's first-inning steal moved him to fifth place on LSU's all time single season stolen base list. He now has 58 career steals, tying him for fifth-time all time with Jeff Reboulet. Mahtook is also now tied for second on the all-time career list for triples with 11.
Game 3 of the series will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The game can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. Live audio and stats of the games may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net.
Live video of Sunday's game may be accessed at www.LSUsports.net
Sunday's game is a Jumbo Sports Network production that can be seen on Cox Cable Channel 4 in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette.
Sunday is Senior Day in Alex Box Stadium, as senior pitchers Ben Alsup and Daniel Bradshaw will be recognized prior to the 1 p.m. first pitch. Also scheduled to be recognized prior to Sunday's game is former LSU pitcher Butch Mixon, who established a school record on April 28, 1959 when he recorded 24 strikeouts against Southwestern Louisiana.
LSU 8, Tennessee 1 (May 14, 2011 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Tennessee........... 010 000 000 - 1 4 5 (23-26, 5-21 SEC)
LSU.................... 120 110 30X - 8 16 0 (32-19, 10-16 SEC)
Pitchers: Tennessee - Nick Blount; Zack Godley(7) and Wes Walker.
LSU - Kurt McCune; Joe Broussard(8); Nick Rumbelow(9) and Ty Ross; Grant Dozar.
Win-Kurt McCune(7-3) Loss-Nick Blount(1-4) T-2:19 A-10354
Actual Attendance: 5215