LSU baseball holds off Missouri comeback, wins SEC opener 4-2

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BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU baseball team made its first SEC win way harder than it needed to be.

Behind 6 strong innings from sophomore starting pitcher Zack Hess and 3 early runs from an otherwise stymied offense, No. 16 LSU defeated No. 24 Missouri 4-2 on Friday. With the win, LSU improved to 13-6 on the year and 1-0 in SEC play, while Missouri dropped to 14-4.

The score was close, but LSU had more than a few opportunities to expand its lead. LSU batted 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners on base, ending an inning with the bases loaded twice. As a team, the Tigers batted 0-for-5 with the bases loaded, squandering opportunities in the first and sixth innings.

RELATED: What to expect from LSU-Missouri this weekend

LSU’s first hit with a runner in scoring position came in the eighth inning when sophomore centerfielder Zach Watson doubled down the third-base line, scoring third baseman Chris Reid. Prior to that at-bat, Watson was hitting .118 with runners in scoring position in 2018.

Starter’s spotlight

Hess pitched about as well as anyone could’ve wanted through his first six innings, striking out 8 batters an keeping the visiting Tigers off balance. But for as strong as Hess’ day was, Missouri made him work for it. The sophomore right-hander threw 107 pitches, 59 for strikes, and walked 5 batters but limited the damage by allowing just 3 hits. Missouri pushed Hess to his limit in the third inning, loading the bases with two outs, but Hess struck out Missouri cleanup hitter Brian Sharp to end the threat.

Still, Hess ran out of gas in the seventh inning. He walked three straight batters to load the bases before giving the ball off to sophomore relief pitcher Nick Bush. Bush allowed two of the runners to score on a sacrifice fly and an RBI ground out but preserved the LSU lead at 3-2. Hess finished with 6+ innings pitched, striking out 8 batters and allowing 3 hits.

Bush followed his performance in the seventh with a 1-2-3 scoreless eighth inning on a strikeout and two fly outs. Senior Austin Bain replaced Bush in the ninth, earning his second save of the year behind 2 strikeouts.

Striking early

Coming into Friday, Missouri starter Bryce Montes de Oca was among the SEC’s most effective starters, boasting a 1.57 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 23 innings. But a patient LSU offense tagged him for 2 runs in the first inning without a hit. The Tigers’ offense drew 5 walks in the first inning alone, pushing across two early runs on an RBI fielder’s choice from first baseman Austin Bain and a bases loaded walk from third baseman Chris Reid. This marked the eighth straight game LSU scored at least one run in the first inning.

Beau Jordan supplied the big blast, giving the Tigers a third run with a solo home run in the third inning. Jordan smashed the ball off the bat at 102.2 mph and it traveled an estimated 413 feet, landing for the senior’s team-leading fourth home run.

Box score

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What’s next for LSU baseball?

LSU baseball returns to action on Saturday for a nightcap against Missouri. Action is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. CT and will be televised on the SEC Network. Online users will be able to stream the game on their wireless-enabled devices through WatchESPN.

The post LSU baseball holds off Missouri comeback, wins SEC opener 4-2 appeared first on SEC Country.

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