Getting to LSU was a longtime dream for Tyler Moore and he didn’t arrive without a certain level of confidence.
So the freshman first baseman knew it was only a matter of time before his swing started to come around.
There have been flashes all along this season and those snapshots earned Moore a semi-permanent spot in the Tigers’ lineup once April rolled around.
Last weekend at Ole Miss, though, Moore’s confidence – along with his production – reached a new plateau.
In the three games, he was 5-for-12 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBIs. He chased in LSU’s first run in each of the first two games, first with a solo home run on Friday and then with a solid single on Saturday to ignite a four-run inning.
“I definitely felt more comfortable this weekend,” Moore said after he elevated his season average to .290 and produced back-to-back multi-hit games for the first time in his career. “I was really comfortable with my swing and my approach. I was really locked in and was as comfortable as I’ve been.”
Proof of how comfortable Moore was evident on the first pitch he saw from Ole Miss.
Facing Rebels’ ace Bobby Wahl, Moore leapt on the first offering he got in the second inning of the series opener and sent a laser into the right-field bullpen, his 3rd homer of the season. That was only the second long ball Wahl has given up in 67.1 innings this season.
|Tyler Moore: Hitting .344 (11-for-32) in his last eight games|
“Maybe they let their guard down a little bit after facing Raph (Rhymes), and they figured they were going to come after the next guy,” Moore said. “That was me and I was ready for it.”
With Moore likely to remain in the batting order in a protective spot behind Rhymes, the former Dunham School star’s progress is a major positive sign for the third-ranked Tigers (38-11, 16-8 SEC).
Rhymes leads LSU with 47 RBIs, followed by Mason Katz with 38. Austin Nola and Ty Ross have 34 apiece. If Moore can add another run-producer in the thick of the batting order, the Tigers could be a formidable offense in the postseason.
“If Tyler gets going and hits like he did last weekend, pitchers are going to have to pitch differently to a lot of guys in our lineup,” Nola said. “He’s a kid who has a great swing and a great future, and he’s starting to show his potential already and that’s big for us.”
For the first time this season, the Tigers’ SEC weekend rotation will have a different look when Vanderbilt (24-24, 11-13) comes to LSU.
|Aaron Nola: Strong outing at Ole Miss results in a move to the Saturday spot|
Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said Wednesday that freshman Aaron Nola will move into the Saturday spot vs. the Commodores, with Ryan Eades slated to throw on Sunday.
Eades has been in a five-week funk, with a 7.14 ERA in that span and four non-quality starts.
Nola, meanwhile, is coming off one of his best starts of the season against Ole Miss: 7.2 innings of work with 7 hits allowed and 3 runs on the way to his 6th victory.
Around the horn
Rhymes’ .500 average is the highest in the SEC by a whopping 93 points. Ole Miss second baseman Alex Yarbrough is second in the league with a .407 average. Rhymes also tops the SEC with 85 hits and a .544 on-base average and ranks second with 47 RBIs and a .619 slugging percentage.
Hitting in front of Rhymes, Katz has gotten plenty of chances to score and he tops the SEC with 52 runs. It doesn’t hurt that the Tigers’ right fielder is tied for 8th place in the league with 14 doubles and tied for 6th with 9 home runs
LSU’s official NCAA RPI is at No. 5 after taking two of three games against Ole Miss, which is 19th. Vanderbilt comes in with an RPI of 49, while South Carolina – the Tigers’ final regular-season foe – is at 9 in the rankings.th.
Tigers’ Friday-night ace Kevin Gausman is a dead heat for the SEC strikeout lead this season, tied with Mississippi State’s Chris Stratton with 101. Gausman has worked the most innings in the league with 82.2 (Stratton is at 82.1).
The two victories in Oxford pushed LSU’s win total past what it has finished with in each of the last two regular seasons (36). The 16 league wins with two weekends to play are the Tigers’ most since they were 20-10 in 2009 and tied for the SEC regular-season crown.
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