LSU improved to 29-12 with its second win over SLU this season. The Lions dropped to 23-16 despite collecting 16 hits on the evening.
Schimpf’s dinger was his 11th of the season, while Dean extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his seventh homer on the year. Right fielder Jared Mitchell also chipped in with two hits, including a RBI single, as well as a walk and a stolen base.
Right-hander Ben Alsup (1-0) recorded the first win of his collegiate career as the sophomore pitched six innings, allowing 10 hits and five earned runs and striking out four. SLU’s Shawn Herring (2-4) was charged with the loss after giving up six runs (five earned) in only three innings.
“It was a hard-earned victory,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “We didn’t hit great. We got a few clutch hits. We got a couple of big home runs, and the kids played great on defense.
“Alsup threw a lot of strikes and allowed his defense to work even though they got 10 hits off of him. Paul Bertuccini came in and got a big out, and then, Matty Ott did the job for us at the end.”
Mainieri made a number of changes defensively before the ball game, moving sophomore DJ LeMahieu to second base and Schimpf to left field so he could insert talented freshman Austin Nola at shortstop. The move paid off as the local product from Baton Rouge made a number of nice plays in a close game.
“Austin Nola is inordinately skilled as a shortstop,” Mainieri said. “He has great instincts for getting to the ball. He’s got good range. He’s got super hands and a strong, accurate throwing arm. I think he can be one of the very best defensive shortstops around.
“I thought we could upgrade our infield defense by having a little more range and a chance to turn some double plays by making this move. This was a tough decision, but when you have great kids, then you can make moves that can strengthen your team.”
The teams exchanged runs in the first two innings as the Lions plated a run in the top of the first, while the Tigers scored one in the second on a sacrifice fly by catcher Micah Gibbs.
SLU capitalized on a pair of doubles and a two-out RBI single to bring home three runs in the top of the third and take a 4-1 advantage. However, the Tigers struck back with five runs in the bottom of the frame to go up, 6-4.
After a pair of walks and a balk to lead off the inning, third baseman Tyler Hanover drove in a run on a grounder to third. Schimpf then launched a two-run blast to right center, and Dean followed with a solo shot over the right field wall. First baseman Sean Ochinko reached on an error after Dean’s homer, and Mitchell drove him in on a RBI single.
The Lions came back to within a run in the fourth and threatened to retake the lead with one out and runners on the corners in the top of the seventh, but Bertuccini entered out of the bullpen and induced a double play to preserve the one-run lead.
SLU rallied again in the eighth and ninth innings, putting the tying runs in scoring position in both frames. However, Ott came through with some clutch pitching in both innings to keep the Lions off the scoreboard and earn his eighth save of the season.
Nola again made a terrific play in the ninth with two outs and the tying run on third base, charging a slow grounder and delivering a strike on the run to first base to end the game.
The Tigers return to action Wednesday at 7 p.m. when they face off against UL-Lafayette at Zephyr Field in Metairie, La.
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