BATON ROUGE, LA.----- Sixth-ranked LSU defeated Georgia 4-0 Friday in front of 7,103 fans at Alex Box Stadium.
LSU (19-4, 2-2 SEC) grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second. Third baseman Christian Ibarra led off with a base hit and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by centerfielder Andrew Stevenson. After a sharp single by catcher Chris Chinea, Ibarra advanced to third and then scored on a groundout by Kramer Robertson. Left fielder Sean McMullen made it 2-0 with a two-out, run-scoring double.
In the fourth, LSU manufactured another run after a leadoff walk and another sacrifice bunt by Stevenson. Robertson notched his second RBI of the night on a groundout. The Tigers loaded the bases later in the frame, but sophomore left-hander Ryan Lawlor got Alex Bregman to fly out to keep it a 3-0 contest.
Georgia (14-9, 1-3 SEC) missed a pair of early scoring opportunities against ace Aaron Nola who sported a 0.27 ERA on the season in 33.2 innings. In the first, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with two outs on a base hit by Hunter Cole and back-to-back walks to Zack Bowers and Daniel Nichols. That was a rarity for Nola who came into the contest with just four walks on the year. He battled back to strike out Jared Walsh on a 3-2 offering. Cole’s single extended his hitting streak to 11 games plus he’s now reached base safely in all 23 games this year.
In the third, Bulldog junior Nelson Ward smacked a leadoff double. Nola responded by striking out Conor Welton. After hitting Cole with a pitch, he struck out Bowers and one pitch later Ward was thrown out trying to steal third to end that threat. The Tigers added their final run in the fifth as designated hitter Kade Scivicque reached on a leadoff single, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Conner Hale and came around on an RBI-double by Ibarra.
Nola improved to 5-0, going 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, a career-high four walks and eight strikeouts. Lawlor dropped to 2-2, surrendering four runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings. Junior Ross Ripple blanked the Tigers over the final 3.1 innings with three strikeouts. Tiger left-hander Zac Person came on for Nola in the seventh and pitched two innings with four strikeouts, and the Bulldogs managed three hits off him. Following a two-out double off the wall in centerfield by Jess Posey in the ninth, Joe Broussard got the call to secure the final out, and he struck out pinch-hitter Sean McLaughlin. This was the first time since last April against Arkansas that the Bulldogs have been shut out.
“We had a couple of opportunities early including with the bases loaded and a chance for a knockout punch, and we couldn’t get a hit,” said Georgia coach Scott Stricklin. “We have to be able to put the ball in play; we had too many strikeouts. A lot of our strikeouts were looking, I think it was seven of them and that can’t happen. I told our guys somebody has got to step up and be that guy to get our offense going. I expect us to be in it Saturday and we will be swinging. (Aaron) Nola is an excellent pitcher. He’s going to be a big leaguer. I thought Ryan Lawlor was okay for us and Ross Ripple kept us right there in it.”
Game two of the series on Saturday will begin at 7:37 p.m. EDT and be televised by CSS/Cox Sports Television.