LSU backed up multiple excellent pitching performances with just enough offense, knocking off Southeastern Louisiana 4-2 to preserve its first undefeated weekend of the 2018 season.
"A great way to finish up the week," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "... I think we're getting better as a team."
The Tigers (8-4) completed their three-game sweep of Toledo, Sacred Heart and Southeastern allowing just three runs the entire weekend. Entering the weekend, LSU's single-game low for runs allowed was three.
Making his LSU debut, freshman right-hander AJ Labas was sharp in a short outing, logging two scoreless innings.
Labas, who missed the first two weeks of the season after undergoing back surgery in December, filled up the strike zone against Southeastern, firing 24 of his 32 pitches for strikes, including a first-pitch strike to every batter.
Mainieri said Labas was limited to a maximum of 40 pitches.
"He showed what he is; he's going to throw the ball over the plate, he's going to get some weak contact," Mainieri said. "... He's an Eric Walker-type pitcher. He's going to move the ball around; he's got good command of three pitches. He's going to get a lot of weak contact.
"I think that was a big boost for our team even though it was only two innings."
Labas turned the ball over to Ma’Khail Hilliard to start the third inning, and Hilliard added to what has been an excellent start to his LSU career, allowing only one hit in four shutout innings of relief.
With precise command of his cutting fastball and breaking ball, Hilliard retired the last 11 batters he faced and 12 of 14 overall. He also flashed improved velocity on his fastball, touching 90 miles per hour Sunday.
"My arm felt really good today," Hilliard said. "I just tried to fill (the strike zone) up. I felt really good and confident."
Sunday marked Hilliard’s fifth appearance this season; he has started his career with 12 consecutive scoreless innings.
LSU used the long ball to stake its young pitchers to an early lead.
Antoine Duplantis clubbed his first home run of the year — a no-doubter that right fielder Mike Taylor stopped chasing early — with two outs in the first inning.
Two innings later, Beau Jordan connected on his third home run of the season, a solo shot to left field that made it 2-0.
"It's always very important to get an early lead," Jordan said.
Southeastern spoiled LSU’s hopes for back-to-back shutouts when pinch hitter Kyle Schimpf demolished a Trent Vietmeier offering for a two-run homer in the top of the seventh, cutting LSU’s 4-0 lead in half.
Later in the inning, the Lions had the tying run in scoring position after Brennan Breaud’s two-out double down the right-field line. But Nick Bush induced an inning-ending fly ball from Cody Grosse.
For the first time this season, LSU brought in a pitcher in a save situation, handing the ball to Austin Bain to start the ninth inning. Bain notched a scoreless ninth inning, striking out Daniel Wasinger to end the game.