BATON ROUGE -- A strong performance on the mound from junior right-hander Louis Coleman and a seven-run seventh inning led LSU past Northwestern State, 10-3, on Tuesday evening in Alex Box Stadium.
Coleman (1-0) got his first start of the season for the Tigers, pitching six innings and striking out seven, while only giving up one unearned run.
“I thought (Louis) Coleman was awesome,” said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. “He was outstanding. He pounded the strike zone. He threw with a lot of confidence. I was so happy for him.
“I told our team after the game to go and thank Louis for his outing because up until the seventh inning, I didn’t think we played that great,” added Mainieri. “We scored seven runs in the seventh, but until then we didn’t have a lot of great at-bats. But because of Coleman pitching so well, it didn’t hurt us so badly.”
Rightfielder Derek Helenihi led the Tigers (15-7) at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two RBI and a run. Freshman shortstop DJ LeMahieu went 2 for 3 with two RBI and a run, while catcher Sean Ochinko went 2 for 4 with two RBI and one run.
Coleman started off in hot water, as he gave up a hit and centerfielder Leon Landry committed an error to put two Demons on base in the top of the first. A sacrifice fly by Justin O’Neal scored the initial run of the game for the Demons (13-9).
Ryan Campbell (0-3), who got the start for the Demons, retired the Tigers in order in the first and second innings. Coleman returned the favor, retiring the Demons in the top of the second. But he found himself in trouble in the third, giving up two straight line drives to Denney Choate and Chase Lyles. However, Coleman was able to get out of the inning without giving up a run.
Landry ended the Tigers’ drought with a triple to open the third. He tied the game on a sacrifice fly by LeMahieu.
With two outs in the fourth, LSU DH Jared Mitchell walked. The walk proved costly for Northwestern State, as Mitchell scored from first on a single by Ochinko to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
In the fifth, LeMahieu reached first with a single through up the middle and stole second. Ryan Schimpf hit a line drive to center field for a single that moved LeMahieu to third. The freshman from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. was brought home on a Michael Hollander sacrifice fly for the Tigers’ third run of the game.
Helenihi collected his second hit of the game in the sixth and stole second, winding up at third because of a throwing error. However, he was left stranded when Landry popped out to the catcher and LeMahieu grounded out to shortstop.
Austin Ross came on in relief of Coleman. He struck out Lance LaCoste and Dylan Libadisos. However, before getting out of the inning, he gave up a ground rule double to Joe Urtuzuastegui. A Brett Johnson grounder found its way through the infield, bringing home Urtuzuastegui for the Demons’ second run.
Schimpf walked to begin the seventh, and Hollander bunted him over to second. Blake Dean knocked him in with a double to left center field. Matt Clark was intentionally walked before Mitchell slapped a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Dean and advancing Clark to third. Ochinko blooped a single into center field that scored Clark.
The Tigers weren’t done, though. Helenihi laced a bases-clearing double to the left field wall, giving the Tigers a 6-2 lead. He then scored when Landry hit a double to the right field wall. LeMahieu followed that up with an RBI single, giving the Tigers a 10-2 lead.
Ross pitched three innings, recording four strikeouts and getting his second save of the season.
Campbell was charged with the loss as he allowed three runs on six hits in 4.1 innings with one walk and five strikeouts.
The Tigers will play host to UNO on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU 10, Northwestern State 3 (Mar 25, 2008 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Northwestern State.. 100 000 110 - 3 10 2 (13-9)
LSU.......................... 001 110 70X - 10 14 1 (15-7)
Pitchers: Northwestern State - Campbell, Ryan; Morgan, Justin(5); Santangelo, Johnnie(7); Boss, Blaine(7). LSU - Louis Coleman; Austin Ross(7).
Win-Louis Coleman(1-0) Save-Austin Ross(2) Loss-Campbell, Ryan(0-3) T-2:39 A-7253
Weather: 68 degrees, sunny
Actual Attendance: 2,259
Santangelo faced 3 batters in the 7th.