FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sophomore right-hander Aaron Nola fired the first complete game of his career Friday night, and designated hitter Sean McMullen belted a three-run homer to lead the top-ranked Tigers to a 6-2 win over No. 10 Arkansas at Baum Stadium.
The victory was LSU’s 15th straight overall and its 10th consecutive win in SEC play. The Tigers improved to 33-2 overall and remained in first place in the league standings with a 12-1 mark.
The Tigers’ overall win streak is their longest since the 2008 club won 23 games in a row. LSU’s current SEC win streak is the Tigers’ longest since the 2008 team won 12 consecutive league games.
Arkansas dropped to 24-11 overall and 8-5 in the league standings. LSU is tied with Vanderbilt (12-1) for the overall SEC lead, and the Tigers have a four-game lead in the Western Division over Arkansas and Alabama.
LSU and Arkansas resume the series at 6 p.m. Saturday in a game that will be televised by Cox Sports Television, and it can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. Live video is available in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net; however, the streaming video will be blacked out in states that receive Cox Sports Television.
Junior right-hander Ryan Eades (7-0) will start Saturday’s game on the mound for LSU, while Arkansas will counter with junior right-hander Ryne Stanek (3-2).
Nola (6-0) recorded the first complete game by an LSU pitcher this season, limiting the Razorbacks to two runs on four hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. The complete game was the first by an LSU pitcher since May 18, 2012 when Kevin Gausman posted a 5-2 win over South Carolina.
Nola was aided by several outstanding defensive plays, as the Tigers demonstrated why the lead the SEC with a .983 fielding percentage.
“What I like so much about this team is that we have such balance and excel in all phases of the game,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “That was certainly evident tonight – Aaron was brilliant and the mound and our defense made some amazing plays behind him. We got the big home run from McMullen, who’s been tremendous at the top of the order, and I was extremely proud of (LSU catcher) Ty Ross for coming through with a clutch two-out hit to stretch our lead.”
McMullen’s three-run homer, his first of the season, gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. The home run was the first allowed this season by Arkansas starter Barrett Astin (2-2).
Ross delivered a two-out, two-run single in the sixth to extend LSU’s advantage to 5-0.
Arkansas first baseman Eric Fisher launched a two-run homer, his second dinger of the season, to narrow the deficit to 5-2 in the seventh.
The Tigers added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, taking advantage of three Arkansas errors in the inning. Shortstop Alex Bregman’s sacrifice fly padded the lead to 6-2.
Astin worked 5.2 innings and was charged with five runs (three earned) on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts.