Landon Marceaux and Patrick Wicklander didn't want to blink first. Both pitchers were exquisite for much of the evening in what quickly became a good old fashioned pitching duel.
In front of a season high 6,331 fans in Alex Box Stadium, which one blinked first ultimately would be on the losing end and unfortunately for the Tigers, a two run seventh inning off of Marceaux was enough to give Arkansas the game one 7-0 victory.
Marceaux was dealing early in this game as the Razorbacks offense, which came in with a nation leading 74 home runs on the season, had no answer for Marceaux's offspeed pitches. Through four innings of work, Marceaux did not allow a hit and struck out seven total batters, most of which came off his changeup which Arkansas hitters were in front of all night.
"It was a pitching duel in every sense of the word," coach Paul Mainieri said. "Landon was terrific, made a couple of good plays behind him."
He recorded at least two strikeouts in three of the first four innings he pitched while also keeping his pitch count relatively low. The only two baserunners Marceaux allowed came off of errors from third baseman Cade Doughty. In the sixth inning an error from Doughty wound up being a pickoff at second on a laser thrown from catcher Alex Milazzo.
Marceaux finally allowed his first hit of the game in the seventh inning, a leadoff single that put LSU in its first real bind of the evening. A second hit to the outfield put runners on second and third with one out and a single from centerfielder Christian Franklin turned out to be the swing of the evening.
A one out line drive was enough to score two runs as the Razorbacks offense really started to heat up with three straight hits off Marceaux before forcing an inning ending double play.
Marceaux was fantastic throughout the evening but so was Razorbacks starter Patrick Wicklander. The LSU hitters couldn't catch up to his 93-94 mph fastballs and were able to scrape together just three hits on the night.
One of the better opportunities for LSU came in the seventh as Gavin Dugas blasted a one out single to right field, one of his two hits on the night and was followed up by a single from Cade Doughty to centerfield. But all the air was lost when Dugas tried stretching the hit from Doughty into an extra base and was thrown out at third.
"We just couldn't solve Wicklander. We hit a couple of balls hard, I thought we'd do a little bit better but we just couldn't get to him," Mainieri said.
"Hats off to him, he threw a great game," Gavin Dugas said. "I wouldn't say it was an off night. We got a bunch of barrels on balls. We swung it pretty well but the balls didn't fall for us, a lot of them got held up and we just didn't get the job done."
The back-to-back hits did force Wicklander off the mound but Kevin Kopps, who entered the evening with 66 strikeouts and a 0.97 ERA in the SEC struck out Giovanni DiGiacomo on three pitches ending the threat.
Marceaux's day would end in the eighth as he'd allow two runs on four hits with eight strikeouts in his seven innings on the mound. The wheels came completely off in the eighth as the Razorbacks tacked on five runs including home run No. 75, a three-run shot that sent fans to the exits.
The Tigers will try to even up the series on Saturday with AJ Labas on the mound.
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.