LSU baseball: Offense, Zack Hess dominate as Tigers blow out Texas 13-4

BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU baseball team has successfully put its rough opening weekend behind it.

Behind 6 solid innings from sophomore right-hander Zack Hess and an explosive showing from an offense going against a previously dominant starting pitcher, No. 22 LSU (3-2) blew out No. 14 Texas (3-2) 13-4 on Friday night. The win was a stark reversal from LSU’s first four games of the season, where the Tigers allowed 6+ runs in every game and struggled to find any consistency from its starting pitching.

Hess reversed that trend in a notable way Friday, striking out a career-high 10 batters and allowing 2 earned runs on 99 pitches in 6 innings of work. He allowed seven baserunners on 5 hits and 2 walks, a stark contrast to the 5 hits and 6 walks he surrendered in 2.1 innings in his first start of 2018. The sophomore retired the last eight batters he faced, striking out three of them swinging.

Perhaps most importantly, Hess pitched virtually the entire game with a lead. LSU’s offense jumped on Texas starter Nolan Kingham, who threw 8 scoreless innings in his season debut versus UL-Lafayette, for 5 runs in the first inning on 4 hits and 2 errors. The offense didn’t let off the throttle, tagging Kingham for 8 hits and 8 runs, 4 earned, in 3 innings.

Player of the game: 2B Brandt Broussard

Five games into the season, no LSU player has been more efficient and more effective than second baseman Brandt Broussard. Broussard went  4-for-5 with a double, 4 RBI and 2 runs scored on Friday, catalyzing the LSU offense from out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup.

A transfer from Delgado Community College, Broussard is hitting  .533 with  RBI in his first five games at LSU, both of which lead the Tigers. He also leads LSU with 2 stolen bases and added his first extra-base hit on Friday on a 2 RBI double in the first inning.

How the Hess was won

It’s hard to imagine two starts more different than Hess’ first two of the season. Whereas in his first start Hess couldn’t find the strike zone, walking 6 batters, he was in control for the entirety of his start Friday, firing his fastball 91-93 mph throughout the whole outing and snapping his slurve on the corner of the plate for a consistent putout pitch.

The only time he encountered any trouble came in the second inning, when an RBI triple followed by a sacrifice fly stuck him with 2 earned runs. But after that point, Hess looked untouchable. Between the third and sixth innings, Hess allowed 2 hits and struck out 6 batters, giving up 1 walk along the way. In his final two frames, Hess needed just 20 pitches to set down six hitters in a row, keeping his pitch count below 100 for the evening.

Fun with stats

First baseman Bryce Jordan’s day will go down in the stat sheet as 0-for-1 with a strikeout. But it was so much more than that.

Jordan walked in each of his first four at-bats, coming around the score three times. His four walks tied the LSU single-game record, matching a mark last achieved by Greg Deichmann a season ago versus Mississippi State.

Double trouble

While most of the focus Friday will go to Broussard and shortstop Hal Hughes at the bottom of the order, who combined to hit 6-for-9 with 6 RBI,  the top of the order did a great job of bringing those guys around.

Hitting from the leadoff spot, freshman outfielder Daniel Cabrera went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI including a 2 RBI double in the third inning. And no longer just a relief pitcher, designated hitter Austin Bain raked from the No. 2 hole, batting  2-for-5 with two doubles. Bain now has three doubles on the season, matching Beau Jordan for the team lead.

LSU baseball box scor e

What’s next for LSU baseball?

LSU baseball and Texas match up for Game 2 of this three-game series on Saturday. The game is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT and will be available for stream online through WatchESPN.

The post LSU baseball: Offense, Zack Hess dominate as Tigers blow out Texas 13-4 appeared first on SEC Country.

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