BATON ROUGE – A train roared by Alex Box Stadium just after LSU won its first Southeastern Conference game since March 22 on Friday night by beating No. 9 Mississippi State 3-0 in front of 6,712.
Call it the return train.
LSU, victims of a three-game sweep for the first time since 2011 last week at Florida with a loss at Tulane before that, traveled from last place to first class – at least for a night - with a 3-0 victory over the SEC West leaders. Aaron Nola (6-1) limited the Bulldogs (20-11, 6-4 SEC) to two hits and struck out 10 for the victory in eight innings.
The No. 20 Tigers (22-8-1, 4-5-1 SEC) collected seven hits in all and took a 2-0 lead in the third on consecutive triples by Sean McMullen and Mark Laird and a RBI single by Alex Bregman that chased State starter and loser Trevor Fitts (2-2). A sacrifice fly by McMullen in the fourth made it 3-0.
“Those back-to-back triples were a thing of beauty,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, whose team has been lacking the clutch extra-base hits in recent weeks.
So was another gem by Nola, who walked only two and allowed just two harmless singles.
“Obviously another tremendous performance by Nola,” Mainieri said. “The guy’s special. At certain points in the game, he rises to another level. That’s why he’s going to pitch in the big leagues.”
LSU and Mississippi State meet at 6:30 Saturday in the second game of the series. Freshman left-hander Jared Poche (5-2, 2.61 ERA) will start for LSU against Mississippi State junior left-hander Ross Mitchell (5-1, 1.55 ERA).