It's been quite rare for LSU this season to get off to a slow start in an SEC game on the mound. But Kentucky attacked the Tigers' pitchers from the start and were able to avoid a series sweep, winning 13-4.
Heading into Sunday's game, Paul Mainieri was tight lipped about who would get that third start in relief of Jaden Hill, who's out for the remainder of the season with a UCL injury. With LSU using Garrett Edwards in the ninth to close out the series, Mainieri ultimately decided on freshman Blake Money for the starting nod.
The outing didn't get off to a great start for Money, who has been one of the few relief pitchers that has experience going multiple innings this season. Kentucky got a hold of a changeup left a little high in the zone and took advantage with a two run home run in the first to take an early 2-0 lead.
Money looked solid on most of his pitches but a few errors in placement were costly for the young freshman. After striking out the side in the second, Money once again left an offspeed pitch too high in the zone in the third inning, leading to another two run home run. In four innings of work, Money would allow six hits and five runs with six strikeouts.
The last two outings against the Wildcats, the LSU offense jumped out with early offense but that didn't translate to Sunday afternoon's game. While the Tigers were able to put on baserunners in each of the first four innings, LSU was only able to muster up one run during that stretch as it tried to climb out of a 5-1 hole.
Jordan Thompson and Cade Beloso continued their hot weekends with the bats as Thompson went 3-for-4 on the afternoon, bringing his weekend total to 8-for-12 at the plate. Beloso would bring a runner home in the fourth with an RBI single, finishing 1-for-4 on the day and 5-for-9 with seven RBI for the weekend.
"He's been improving with each passing day and you can put him in that same category as Crews and Morgan," Mainieri said of Thompson. "He's a special freshman and he's played really good shortstop and I think he's just going to really get better and better."
"I'm just trying to play as best as I can, me and Eddie [Smith] have been working hard," Thompson said. "I go get early work every day and just trying to get that extra work whenever I can. A lot of guys are doing it and it's starting to pay off."
LSU started to put a dent into the four run Kentucky lead in the seventh with a two run home run from Tre' Morgan that cut the lead in half to just a two run deficit.
It looked as if LSU would have an opening to close in on the lead but a eight run bottom of the seventh inning all but silenced a Tigers' comeback attempt as Kentucky went ahead 13-3 and never looked back. The bullpen hadn't had a rough patch like this in many weeks as much of the struggles had stemmed from a lack of offense.
The rotation of Jacob Hasty, Michael Fowler, Brandon Kaminer and Aaron George only saw Hasty keep the Wildcats off the board.
LSU will be back in action on Tuesday evening with a midweek game against Grambling State.
"I mean the series win was huge, definitely a big confidence booster I think and the team is going to build off this and do a lot of special things," Thompson said.
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.