Glenn Guilbeau / Gannett Louisiana
BATON ROUGE – LSU’s base running and bullpen made it exciting, but the No. 8 Tigers held on for a 5-3 victory over Arkansas in front of 7,034 at Alex Box Stadium Friday night.
The Tigers (26-8-1) appeared in control in the seventh behind ace pitcher Aaron Nola, who set a career record with 13 strikeouts. LSU took a 5-1 lead in the seventh on a sacrifice fly to center by Kramer Robertson, but they could have had more.
First, Christian Ibarra was thrown out when he rounded first base too far and nonchalantly after his single moved Andrew Stevenson from first to third. After Tyler Moore walked, Robertson appeared to hit a gapper between center and right as Moore rounded second. Center fielder Tyler Spoon made the catch, though, and threw to first to get Moore for a double play.
Arkansas then scored two in the eighth to get within 5-3 on a two-run double by Brian Anderson off LSU reliever Zac Person. Nola had walked Spoon to open the inning and left the game. Person got a fly out, but then he walked Joe Serrano to put two runners on for Anderson.
Joe Broussard relieved Person after the Anderson double but walked pinch-hitter Michael Gunn. Broussard settled down to get Fisher on a fly to right and barely got Bobby Wernes to end the inning. LSU first baseman Conner Hale just got Wernes’ hard grounder to his right and threw to Broussard at first just in time to retire the side.
Broussard retired the side in order in the ninth with two strikeouts for his fifth save.
LSU took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run single by Alex Bregman off Arkansas starter Trey Killian (1-6) with nobody out, but Bregman hurt the chance for more runs when he was caught trying to steal third.
Sean McMullen put LSU up 4-0 with a two-run home run in the third inning. Eric Fisher cut LSU’s lead to 4-1 in the fifth with a solo home run off Nola to lead off.
Nola (7-1) allowed four hits and two earned runs with two walks.