BATON ROUGE, La. — Ma’Khail Hilliard isn’t the only freshman on the LSU baseball pitching staff spinning a lengthy scoreless inning streak to start his career.
Making the third start of his career, freshman right-hander AJ Labas was excellent, throwing 6 shutout innings on the way to a 9-4 LSU victory over South Alabama. With the win, LSU improves to 12-6 on the season and atones for a loss against the Jaguars last May.
Labas has now opened his college career by throwing 12 consecutive scoreless innings, striking out 8 men and walking just 1 in the process. The hyper-efficient Labas struck out 5 batters with no walks on 5 hits on Wednesday, needing just 74 pitches to complete six frames. In any other year, Labas’ performance might be the talk of the town, but his fellow freshman Hilliard has opened his season with 17.1 shutout innings.
Sticking to what he does best, Labas threw strikes at an impressive rate on Wednesday. The right-hander tossed 53 strikes on 74 pitches, or 72 percent of his pitches. On the season, Labas has thrown 108 strikes on 146 pitches, or 74 percent of his deliveries.
Between Labas, Hilliard and the other four LSU freshmen who have pitched in 2018, the Tigers’ youngest pitchers have posted a 2.22 ERA in 52.2 collective innings this year.
There’s just something about the first inning for the LSU offense.
Behind singles from Brandt Broussard and Hunter Feduccia and walks from Zach Watson and Austin Bain, LSU pushed two runs across in the first inning, making it seven straight games that the Tigers have scored to open the game. Feduccia supplied the biggest hit, singling home Watson and Broussard with the bases loaded to give the Tigers the lead. With that single, Feduccia extended his team lead with his 16th and 17th RBI of 2018.
The Tigers’ offense didn’t score again until the fourth inning when Hal Hughes drove in Bryce Jordan, but the offense broke things open in the fifth. Behind two walks, a hit-by-pitch, a South Alabama error and two singles, LSU slapped four runs on the board. Jordan and Reid drove in runs with RBI walks and Watson singled in two runners with his first hit of the day.
Stat of the day
With a single in the seventh inning Wednesday, right fielder Antoine Duplantis collected the 200th hit of his LSU baseball career. Duplantis needs 72 more hits to crack the top 10 in LSU history.
What’s next for LSU baseball?
LSU opens up SEC play on Friday with the first game of a home three-game set against Missouri. Action is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT and will pit LSU ace Zack Hess against Missouri’s Bryce Montes de Oca.
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