AUBURN, Ala. – Junior right-hander Aaron Nola fired seven innings for his ninth win of the season Friday night as eighth-ranked LSU posted an 11-3 win over Auburn at Plainsman Park.
LSU improved to 39-14-1 overall and 16-11-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn is 28-27 overall and 10-19 in conference play.
LSU, which defeated Auburn 10-0 on Thursday night, secured its first series win at Plainsman Park since 2008.
Game 3 of the series, the final regular-season game of the year, will begin at 1 p.m. CT Saturday. The game can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network, and it will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
With a win Saturday, LSU will clinch the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in next week’s SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. The Tigers could capture the No. 3 seed if they win and Mississippi State loses Saturday to Alabama.
“Aaron Nola demonstrated again that he is the best pitcher in the country with another tremendous outing,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It’s such a privilege to coach one of the greatest pitchers in LSU history. He set the tone for the game early and our hitters came through with the run support we needed.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, but we have a lot left to accomplish on the final day of the regular season. The game tomorrow is very important to us because a win allows us to finish in the top four in the SEC and really boost our resume’ for the postseason.”
Nola (9-1) limited Auburn to one run on five hits in seven innings with one walk and nine strikeouts. He increased his career strikeouts total to 331 and moved into third place on the all-time LSU strikeouts list. Nola earned his 28th career LSU victory and is tied with Brett Laxton (1993-96) for 10th place on the all-time school pitching wins list.
Second baseman Conner Hale led LSU’s 12-hit attack as he was 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI and three runs scored.
LSU scored a run in the second inning when second baseman Conner Hale doubled and scored on a two-out double by third baseman Christian Ibarra.
The Tigers extended the lead to 6-0 in the fourth with a five-run outburst to chase Auburn starter Michael O’Neal. Designated hitter Sean McMullen led off the inning by launching a solo homer, his fifth dinger of the season and his first since April 11 versus Arkansas.
O’Neal (3-6) was charged with the loss as he allowed six runs – five earned – on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
LSU added four more runs in the fourth as Ibarra was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, centerfielder Andrew Stevenson delivered a fielder’s choice RBI grounder, and two runs scored when rightfielder Mark Laird’s grounder was thrown wildly to the plate by Auburn second baseman Dan Glevenyak.
The Tigers increased the margin to 11-0 in the fifth when Hale ripped a two-run double, catcher Tyler Moore lined an RBI double, and Auburn shortstop Damon Haecker misplayed Laird’s ground ball to allow two runs to score.
Auburn scored its first run in the seventh against Nola as shortstop Damon Haecker led off the inning with a single and later crossed the plate on leftfielder Jordan Ebert’s groundout.
Auburn added two runs in the eighth against LSU reliever Hunter Devall as first baseman Damek Tomscha lifted a sacrifice fly and first baseman Blake Austin contributed an RBI single.