COLUMBIA, Mo. – Aaron Nola fired 7 2/3 shutout innings to propel LSU (No. 2 USA Today/ESPN, No. 3 Baseball America, No. 4 Collegiate Baseball) to a 2-0 victory over Missouri in the opener of a three-game Southeastern Conference series Friday night at Taylor Stadium.
LSU (24-2 overall, 6-1 SEC) won its sixth consecutive contest in its first meeting with Missouri (9-13, 2-5) since it joined the SEC last July, and the first meeting between the rival Tigers since 1986.
Nola (4-0) struck out 10 and did not issue a walk until the eighth inning. He threw 69 of his 103 pitches for strikes, scattering only five singles.
“Aaron was really sharp tonight; he pounded the zone and mixed his pitches well to keep them off-balance,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “The conditions weren’t great for hitting tonight, and we managed just enough offense to get the win. Missouri’s starter (Rob Zastryzny) was tough and didn’t allow us to sustain a big inning, but I’m happy our players earned a hard-fought victory.”
Missouri threatened to undo Nola’s work in the bottom of the eighth after Case Munson lined a hard leadoff single through the right side, and Logan Pearson walked with one out.
Nola’s final batter of the night, Dillon Everett, chased a 2-2 pitch low and outside for the second out.
LSU closer Chris Cotton came in to face Dane Opel, and Cotton won the lefty vs. lefty matchup by inducing a fielder’s choice to leave the runners stranded.
Cotton gave up a one-out single to Kendall Keeton in the ninth, but he struck out two other batters and induced a ground ball to notch his seventh save.
Missouri starter Rob Zastrynzy (1-5) allowed just one earned run when Mason Katz jumped on a high fastball with two out in the top of the fourth inning for his team-high 11th home run, breaking the scoreless tie.
Dylan Kelly led off the bottom of the fourth with an infield hit, and he was on third with one out following a wild pitch, but Nola buckled down, striking out Michael McGraw and retiring Josh Lester on a ground ball.
LSU added an unearned run with two out in the eighth when Keeton misplayed Raph Rhymes’ ground ball to second, which allowed Andrew Stevenson to scamper home.
Stevenson was hit by a pitch with one out and moved to second on a single by Alex Bregman.
Zastrynzy struck out seven and walked one over 7 2/3 innings, scattering five hits.
The second game of the series is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday. LSU is scheduled to start junior right-hander Ryan Eades (5-0, 1.63), while Missouri is expected to counter with sophomore righty Brett Graves (0-2, 2.64).