LSU preserved this lead.
The Tigers held on to an early advantage and recovered from last weekend’s stunning collapse to Yale by beating Sacred Heart 8-1 on Wednesday at Alex Box Stadium.
LSU (10-2) had nine hits and used five pitchers to stifle the Pioneers (2-2) in a game that never felt too close.
Starter Brady Domangue followed a rough first inning — his second batter hit a home run — with a solid finish. He allowed three hits and struck out two in three innings and will likely draw another start in a midweek game next week.
Relievers Zac Person, Nate Fury, Kurt McCune and Henri Faucheux pitched a six-inning shutout of Sacred Heart, a team that won a series at Tulane last weekend.
“I was nervous as could be about this game going in,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “This was a good win for us.”
LSU had a four-run second inning to build a familiar early lead.
The Tigers led 6-0 through four innings against Yale on Sunday. They blew the big lead and lost 8-7 in a game that Baseball America called “the stunner of the weekend.”
In that one, starter Cody Glenn allowed five straight singles in the fifth inning to spark a Yale rally, and a group of reliever struggled, namely Hunter Devall.
In this one, Mainieri yanked Domangue early and the relievers struck out a whopping eight batters and allowed two hits to preserve the lead, sending the Tigers to a much-needed victory to start a brutal stretch.
Wednesday’s game was the first of five games in five days and seven in an eight-day span. It all precedes the Tigers’ Southeastern Conference opener at Vanderbilt, March 14-16.
LSU meets Northwestern State at 3 p.m. Thursday in Natchitoches, a game postponed from Tuesday because of weather. The Tigers then host a three-game series against Purdue (1-7) starting Friday.
Mainieri’s group washed away some of the pains of Sunday in front of 2,321, the smallest home crowd of the season.
“We lost on Sunday and we got over it,” catcher Chris Chinea said. “It’s baseball. You’re going to lose some.”
The Tigers got the first five batters on base in the second inning against Sacred Heart starter Robbie Maguire. Kramer Robertson and Sean McMullen had RBI singles, and Chinea had a two-run double.
Chinea had just one hit in his last 16 appearances before the shot to right field scored two.
Sacred Heart posed just one, real threat. The Pioneers had the bases loaded with two outs in the fifth inning.
Person got out of the jam with a strikeout.
“You’re going to remember that situation,” Person said afterward. “You’re going to remember whether or not you got that guy out or whether or not you didn’t.”
Domangue, a reliever for the first two weeks of the season, got the first strikeout of his LSU career on the first batter of the game.
He then allowed a home run to Jayson Sullivan, a shot that hit the metal fence in left field and bounded back onto Skip Bertman Field.
“He puts a good swing on the ball that I left up,” Domangue said. “That happens.”
Said Mainieri: “I took a hard swallow.”
It was a rough first inning. Shortstop Alex Bregman committed his fifth error of the season and Domangue followed the homer by allowing a single.
He threw 23 pitches in the inning.
Things straightened out, though. He retired six of the next eight batters and did well enough to become a candidate for LSU’s somewhat undefined weekend starting rotation.
“Hopefully this is the start of something good for him,” Mainieri said. “Step in the right direction for Brady.”
Domangue, who along with Person starred at LSU-Eunice last year, entered the season as the leading candidate to be the Tigers’ closer. He struggled in his first two appearances, lasting just a combined seven batters.
It appears now that he’ll be starting on the mound.
“He threw exceptionally well,” Mainieri said. “I thought he looked like a different man out there.”