Coach Paul Mainieri wanted his team to stop hitting flyballs.
They kept on doing it Friday — right over the fence.
LSU hit three home runs, including a grand slam, and the Tigers whipped Yale 19-0 at Alex Box Stadium in one of the most explosive offensive showings for the program in years.
Ace Aaron Nola struck out 10 in six innings to extend his season-opening scoreless streak to 19 innings and LSU (8-1) recovered from its first loss of the season by scoring its most runs in more than two years.
“Gosh,” Nola said, “I had never seen anything like that from our team. We went out and hit the ball all over the field.”
It began early.
The Tigers scored 10 runs on eight hits and batted 15 in the first inning, the most productive offensive frame since 2011.
“The focus the last couple of days at practice with our guys was to try to get off to a better start,” Mainieri said. “Going into today, we’d only scored one run in the first inning.”
LSU added to the early advantage. The Tigers had a three-run fifth and a four-run sixth in Game 1 of a three-game, weekend series against the Bulldogs (0-1).
LSU finished with 16 hits in front of 5,172 at the Box and certainly had Mainieri smiling afterward.
The coach had bemoaned his team’s recent flurry of flyouts, specifically after the last outing — a 4-1, rain-shortened loss to Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday.
On Friday, every LSU starter got a hit and scored a run and all but two of them drove in at least one run against Yale, which returned a majority of its starters from a group that went 10-10 in the Ivy League last year.
Freshman Danny Zardon, pinch-hitting for Christian Ibarra, hit a grand slam in the sixth. He lifted a 2-1 pitch well over the left-field wall and into the metal bleachers.
The same stands saw two more homers. Kade Scivicque had a first-inning, three-run shot ricochet off the left-field foul pole, and Ibarra smacked a two-run homer.
“As a freshman hitting your grand slam as your first home run,” Zardon said, “it’s a great experience, good feeling.”
Jake Fraley, a freshman, had an RBI triple to right and rookie Cade Stone got his first hit of the season.
The big bats took some of the spotlight away from another gem from Nola, the Tigers’ junior righty and Catholic High product.
He had two strikeouts in four innings and sprinkled five hits over his six frames.
Nola hasn’t allowed an earned run in 45 innings. It’s a streak that dates back to last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Reliever Henri Faucheux pitched a scoreless seventh, and Brady Domangue allowed one hit in his two innings.
Domangue, a standout at LSU-Eunice the last two years, had struggled in his first two appearances this season, allowing three walks in his first spot two weeks ago and lasting just three pitches last week.
Mainieri suggested afterward that Domangue may start LSU’s game Wednesday against Sacred Heart.
“This might kind of get him into a groove, where he doesn’t feel like every pitch means the ballgame,” Mainieri said. “I thought he threw the ball really well.”
The hitters might not have such an easy time Saturday.
Yale plans to start right-handed pitcher Chase Ford, a highly-rated, 6-3, 200-pounder from California.
Perfect Game gives Ford a grade of nine out of 10, and Baseball America called Ford “a sleeper” among draftable players last year.
Tyler Moore, out of the lineup Friday, will be the designated hitter Saturday, Mainieri said, and Scivicque will catch.
LSU’s hitters will attempt a repeat of Friday’s outing, a tough act to follow.
“That’s probably one of the highest scoring games I’ve been in,” first baseman Conner Hale said.