TUSCALOOSA, Ala. Sophomore right-hander Aaron Nola tossed his first career complete game shutout and senior All-American Raph Rhymes collected three hits with three RBI as second-ranked LSU rolled past Alabama, 5-0, in the opening game of a Southeastern Conference series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Friday night.
The Tigers (36-3, 14-2 SEC) remained perfect in Friday night contests on the year and maintained their four-game lead in the SEC Western Division standings. Alabama (23-17, 8-8), which was swept last weekend at Ole Miss, dropped its fourth consecutive league contest.
Nola (7-0) was brilliant from start to finish, allowing only three hits while walking one and striking out 10. He retired the final 12 batters of the game. His flawless performance was his second straight complete game, becoming the first LSU pitcher since Kevin Gausman last season to achieve the feat. Gausman fired complete games against Vanderbilt on May 11 and South Carolina on May 18.
'He's (Nola) been amazing,' said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. 'It's pretty hard to lose when your pitcher pitches a three-hit shutout. It makes up for a lot of the mistakes you make during the course of the game. Just watching the growth of the guy is amazing to watch. He has always been a strike-throwing machine, but now he throws a little bit harder, his curveball is a little tighter and his changeup is deceptive.'
In addition, Nola became the first LSU pitcher to register a complete game shutout in an SEC contest since Gausman did it against Tennessee on May 13, 2011.