HOOVER, Ala. -- Maybe the bats had jetlag. The LSU Tigers rebounded form a sleepy offensive performance in their first day at the SEC baseball tournament to recover and jolt the Ole Miss Rebels less than 24 hours later, 11-2.
“There was a pretty determined group of kids in our dugout today,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who told his players yesterday that it was their decision whether they wanted to go home or stay in Hoover to play another day.
Despite the early start, with first pitch coming at 9:30 a.m., the Tigers came out ready to play at Regions Park against Ole Miss. LSU struck for two runs in the first inning and held the lead from then on. Three players had multiple runs batted in and eight batters combined for 17 hits.
LSU starter Kevin Gausman kept the Rebels in check on the mound, tossing seven innings of two-run baseball. He scattered seven hits and struck out seven. After the game, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco called Gausman one of the best pitchers in the country, a notion both the Rebels players at the podium agreed with.
“He’s as good as anybody we’ve seen,” Bianco said. “Gauzman’s fastball is explosive. It’s tough to catch up to. ... His upside is huge. He’s going to pitch in the big leagues, no doubt about it.”
Said third baseman Tyler Hanover: “From my personal standpoint, it’s easy to work behind Kevin. Not only does he give you a chance to win, but he works fast and really pounds the zone. I can’t ask for more from a pitcher. My hat’s off to him for the job he’s done all year.”
Chris Cotton and Kurt McCune finished the game off for LSU, allowing just one hit over the remaining three innings.
First baseman Tyler Moore and catcher Ty Ross each had two RBIs apiece and leadoff man Austin Nola went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI. Jordy Snikeris came in at designated hitter for Grant Dozar and went 2-for-2 with four RBIs, including a double with two runners on in the eighth inning.
“When a guy comes up like that with guys on second and third and come up with the double, that’s clutch right there,” Ross said of Snikeris. “(Snikeris) has been doing that all year.”
Hanover totaled the most hits on the day, going 4-for-5 with a double.
LSU will face the loser of Mississippi State and Kentucky tomorrow at 3 p.m. The winner of that game advances to the semifinals.