BATON ROUGE – In what was likely his last regular-season start at Alex Box Stadium, LSU junior pitcher Aaron Nola delivered a masterful performance, shutting out Alabama in a 2-0 victory Saturday afternoon as the No. 6 Tigers improved to 36-13-1 overall and 14-10-1 in the Southeastern Conference.
LSU and No. 19 Alabama (31-19, 13-12 SEC) were scheduled to play the second game of a doubleheader at 7 p.m. Saturday. Their game scheduled for Friday night was rained out.
Nola (8-1) retired the first 15 batters he faced en route to the shutout, striking out nine and scattering four hits. Alabama right-hander Spencer Turnbull (5-5) suffered a tough-luck loss after giving up two earned runs through eight innings of work. Nola’s outing was the first complete game shutout by an LSU pitcher this season and the fourth of Nola’s storied career at LSU. His career strikeouts total increased to 322, as he claimed sole possession of fourth on LSU’s all-time strikeouts list.
“You feel like you’re doing a disservice to Aaron’s performances because it’s hard to find the words to describe how extraordinary he is,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “He led the way for us today, and he was outstanding from beginning to end. In the ninth inning, he was still able to throw exactly the pitches he wanted to throw, and he located them precisely. I get a little emotional when talking about Aaron, because he’s an exceptional young man as well as the best pitcher in the country. What a privilege it’s been for me to be his coach for the past three seasons.”
The shutout was the first thrown by an LSU pitcher since June 7, 2013, when Nola blanked Oklahoma in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional at Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers struck first in the bottom of the second when freshman outfielder Jake Fraley hit an unconventional double off of the second base bag and scored on a single by catcher Tyler Moore. Fraley added an insurance run in the fourth inning, scoring on a two-out RBI double by freshman first baseman Danny Zardon.
Senior outfielder Mark Laird of Monroe finished 3-for-4, marking the fifth time this season he has recorded at least three hits in a game.
LSU and Alabama close the three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday on Cox Sports Television.
The Tigers finish the regular season with a three-game series at Auburn Thursday through Saturday.