BATON ROUGE, La.— Sophomore right-hander Kevin Gausman fired LSU’s first complete game of the season Friday night to lead the third-ranked Tigers to a 2-1 win over Vanderbilt in Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (39-11, 17-8 SEC) clinched at least a share of the SEC Western Division title and a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament with the victory. Vanderbilt dropped to 24-25 and 11-14 in the league.
Game 2 of the series is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday and will be televised on SportSouth/Fox Sports Houston. Freshman right-hander Aaron Nola will take the hill for LSU and Vanderbilt will counter with junior left-hander Sam Selman.
LSU improved to 14-4 in one-run games and 11-3 in SEC games decided by one run.
“Kevin Gausman delivered a brilliant outing tonight; he was just phenomenal on the mound,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He knows how to get it done, and he responds to challenges by getting stronger as the game goes on. He demonstrated tonight, as he has all season, why he is one of the best pitchers in the country.”
Gausman struck out 11 Commodores and retired the side in order in five of his nine innings of work. The complete game was the second of his career – his first came on May 13, 2011 versus Tennessee, which was also the last time an LSU pitcher turned in a complete game.
The right-hander allowed one run Friday night with one walk and five hits in a dominating performance. The 11 strikeouts for Gausman marked the fifth time this season he has struck out 10 or more batters.
Vanderbilt starter TJ Pecoraro (0-4) also had and impressive outing and allowed two runs on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts in eight innings of work.
LSU put its only runs on the board in the bottom of the second inning. Leftfielder Raph Rhymes led off the inning with an infield single and moved to second on designated hitter Grant Dozar’s single to left. Catcher Ty Ross plated Rhymes on a perfectly executed hit-and-run and Hanover added a sacrifice fly to score Dozar.
“I thought we really executed well in that second inning,” Mainieri said. “Ty Ross gave us a great at-bat and drove in a huge run, and Hanover crushed the ball, but their centerfielder (Connor Harrell) made a great catch to keep us from having a bigger inning.”
Vanderbilt scored its only run in the top of the third. Third baseman Vince Conde scored on an infield single by rightfielder Mike Yastrzemski.