Behind another dominant pitching performance from ace Jaden Hill, a trio of homeruns and a defensive clinic in the infield, LSU had no trouble putting away Youngstown State in game one of its series, winning 6-2.
Hill was absolutely phenomenal on the mound, going a second straight start without allowing a run. In fact, the junior ace went the first four innings and change without surrendering a hit and wound up pitching a career high six innings of scoreless baseball.
"I thought he looked extremely sharp, dominant and battled really hard," Hill said. "We wanted him to throw 75 pitches, he threw 77. He's capable of going deep into games, he's a great athlete, has great arm strength and he throws a lot of strikes."
Perhaps more telling behind the dominant pitching performance from Hill, the LSU defense made the plays in the infield. Despite one error at third, Jordan Thompson redeemed himself and looked solid while second baseman Cade Doughty and shortstop Zach Arnold made all the requisite plays to keep Hill's pitch count low.
But the truly impressive defensive performance came from first baseman Tre Morgan who put on a clinic at first base in the sixth inning. The freshman made a tremendous pick, tracked down a hard to see popfly and caught an offline throw from Hill to help the Tigers cap off Hill's performance on a high note.
"He put on a clinic over there at first base, he was outstanding," Mainieri said. "If our infielders just get it close to him, I expect him to pick every ball. His footwork around the bag is so instinctive. He's made several unbelieveable plays and he's such a great asset over there. I think he's one of the best ballplayers you can get as a freshman.
"That stuff doesn't surprise me, he's been doing it since he stepped on campus," Hill added. "Dude's a baller. He has it. The freshmen, you'd never know they were freshmen and that's what's gonna make this team so incredible."
It allowed LSU's ace to go five innings for the first time since his freshman season two years ago, another checkmark that can be crossed off in his move back to a starting role.
The top of the Tigers order did most of the damage offensively, giving Hill some breathing room by scoring five runs in the first four innings of play. A pair of singles from the freshman Morgan in the first and third innings set up homeruns from veteran hitter Cade Beloso and Doughty to separate the Tigers early.
Gavin Dugas and Zach Arnold got in on the action in the fourth and eighth innings solo homeruns but perhaps more impressive, all four homeruns carried past the left and right field bleachers with Beloso's traveling an absurd 427 feet. Dugas in particular has been hot at the plate, picking up a total of eight hits in his last three games.
Relief pitchers Brandon Kaminer and Blake Money had their ups and downs as Youngstown State made it interesting in the ninth by blasting a solo homerun and back-to-back hits off Money that brought closer Devin Fontenot in to pick up the final two outs. Fontenot needed just two pitches to end the game.
The Tigers will be back in action on Saturday with a double header against Youngstown State and Nicholls State starting at 2 p.m. AJ Labas will draw start No. 2 against Youngstown State while Landon Marceaux will go head to head with Nicholls at 6:30 p.m.
Photo courtesty of LSUsports.