BATON ROUGE — On paper, Texas and LSU appeared to be a close matchup. Both teams were ranked in the teens in most major polls, and both were coming off performances in weekend one that left each wanting a little more.
On Friday, LSU looked like a dominant force against the Longhorns’ No. 1 starter and the rest of the staff. LSU touched up junior Nolan Kingham for eight runs in just three innings of work. Texas could not string any hits together and only managed four runs. The fielding was dismal as well. LSU’s Zack Hess righted the ship after a disappointing outing against Notre Dame, going six innings in LSU’s easy 13-4 victory.
“We just made every mistake you could make early, and a lot of that was just for whatever reason guys that had been very responsible or very reliable just didn’t come through tonight,” Texas head coach David Pierce said after the game.
Sophomore right fielder Austin Todd helped delay LSU’s first run by when his on-target relay throw to junior second baseman Mason Hibbeler helped the JUCO transfer turn and fire to retire LSU’s Daniel Cabrera at the plate. Antoine Duplantis made sure that delay was short when his single brought home LSU’s first run in the next at bat.
The Longhorns gave the next two runs to the Tigers. An error on Hibbeler allowed LSU to get runners on first and second. Kingham fielded a dribbler back to him in the next at bat and turned and fired to third base to try and get the force out. Unfortunately, no Longhorn was there and two more Tigers scored to make it 3-0.
Not content with just three in the opening frame, LSU’s Brandt Broussard doubled to left-center field to bring home two more. Kingham ended the first inning with 33 pitches.
Texas responded in the next half inning when junior left fielder Tate Shaw tripled to bring home one run. Sophomore first baseman and Louisiana native Ryan Reynolds then hit a fly ball deep enough to score Shaw from third for Texas’ second run.
Hibbeler booted a ball to start the Tiger third (though it was ruled a hit), but Kingham worked around it to get two outs. He then issued a walk and had a weak grounder to third drop in, leaving no play available and loading the bases. LSU’s nine-hole hitter, Hal Hughes, singled to left and brought home one for the Tigers’ sixth run.
Cabrera doubled down the right field line in the next at-bat to make it 8-2. Not only did Kingham give up eight runs (four of them earned), he also struggled to close out hitters. LSU was able to make solid contact often against the Longhorns’ ace and rarely were fooled by what the Las Vegas native had to offer.
“The first thing you look at is how was the preparation for the week for Nolan?” Pierce said. “Talking to coach (Phil) Haig, everything was probably as good as he’s ever had. I think he was excited coming off of the national player of the week, but I don’t think he actually took advantage of that. I thought he was ready to go. He just wasn’t good.”
With a six run cushion, LSU’s Zack Hess worked his way through the Longhorn lineup with ease. Hess recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts against Texas batters over six innings, including three against Longhorn DH Zach Zubia.
LSU added two in the fourth inning when Broussard singled to bring home runs nine and ten.. LSU added three runs in the sixth, the first as a result of Hughes’ second RBI. Cabrera then grounded out for out number two, but that groundout brought Broussard home after he reached third due to a Brandon Ivey wild pitch.
Junior Parker Joe Robinson replaced Ivey in the sixth, then joined in on the run-allowing action when he gave up a 2-RBI double to Tiger DH Austin Bain to make it 13-2. Those runs were charged to Ivey, but it was part of the Longhorns overall poor performance on the mound.
Texas added two runs in the eighth with RBIs from Shaw and junior Michael McCann, but it ultimately had little effect on the game.
Junior Chase Shugart takes the mound for the Longhorns tomorrow. The first result of the series was disappointing, but Pierce said his team is focused on winning the next two.
“We’ve got to bounce back,” Pierce said. “We’re trying to win a series still.”