BATON ROUGE – No. 13 LSU posted a 5-4 win over Arkansas to take the opening game of the three-game Southeastern Conference series Friday evening at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU improved to 29-16 overall and 12-10 in the SEC. Arkansas dropped to 26-20 overall and 7-15 in league play.
Game 2 of the series starts at 6:30 p.m. CT Saturday, and it will be televised by ESPNU. The game is also accessible at WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app.
Saturday’s game will be carried on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network, including WDGL 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge, Live audio of the games may be accessed at www.LSUsports.net/live with live stats at www.LSUstats.com.
Sophomore right-hander Alex Lange (6-3) earned the victory Friday after allowing three runs on eight hits in 7.1 innings. Lange struck out six and only walked one. Over the past three games spanning 25.1 innings, Lange has only walked three batters.
“I thought Alex Lange gave us another courageous performance and got us off to the start we needed in this series,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Arkansas has a lot of tough hitters in their lineup, and they got to Alex early. He had to work extremely hard throughout the outing, but I thought he got stronger and was really at his best in the sixth and seventh innings.
“Tonight’s game was the perfect example of why I say it is so hard to win a college baseball game. It really was a grind, but we managed to do enough to win the game. At this time of the year, you’ll take the win and put it in your back pocket and look forward to getting back out here tomorrow.”
Junior right-hander Hunter Newman earned his third save of the season after limiting the Razorbacks to one run on no hits over the final 1.2 innings.
Arkansas starter Dominic Taccolini (5-3) was charged with the loss as he allowed five runs – four earned – on five hits in five innings with three walks and one strikeout.
The Razorbacks took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. With runners on second and third, left fielder Luke Bonfield hit an RBI groundout to second base. LSU evened the game in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI groundout by shortstop Kramer Robertson.
LSU gained the lead in the bottom of the third inning. Centerfielder Jake Fraley walked with one out and later scored after a stolen base and pair of wild pitches.
Arkansas tied the game in the top of the fifth on an RBI single up the middle by catcher Tucker Pennell.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the sixth inning with a pair of walks and a single. LSU plated three runs in the inning on two bases-loaded walks and sacrifice fly by catcher Jordan Romero.
Arkansas narrowed the deficit to 5-3 in the eighth inning on a solo home run by first baseman Clark Eagan against Lange, who then struck out centerfielder Carson Shaddy before yielding the mound to Newman.
The Razorbacks reduced LSU’s lead to 5-4 in the ninth on a wild pitch by Newman, and Arkansas had the tying run on third with two outs. Newman forced Eagan to fly out to Fraley in right-center field to end the game.
Fraley collected two stolen bases in the game to increase his career total to 53 and move into a tie for ninth place with Chad Cooley (1993-96) on the LSU all-time steals list.