JaCoby Jones and Ty Ross broke out of hitting slumps and Aaron Nola threw seven strong innings as No. 2 LSU defeated No. 9 Kentucky 11-1 on Friday night in Alex Box Stadium.
Jones and Ross were both hitting under .200 entering the game, but Jones had his first three-hit game of the season, including a two-run single during a four-run fifth, and Ross had his first multi-hit game since Feb. 22, starting two scoring rallies with singles and also walking.
Nola (5-0) struggled in the fourth and fifth innings, but otherwise was in control as he allowed just four hits, three walks and one run and struck out seven.
Will LaMarche pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth.
The Tigers won their 10th straight to match the school-record 28-2 start of the 1986 team and improve to 9-1 in the Southeastern Conference. The Wildcats are 22-7 and 6-4. Game 2 of the series will be played at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
LSU bolted from a 1-1 tie in the fifth. Sean McMullen led off by getting hit by a pitch by Kentucky starter A.J. Reed (2-4). Mark Laird tried to sacrifice, but forced McMullen at second and Alex Bregman lined to left.
Raph Rhymes beat out a grounder to third and Mason Katz walked on four pitches to load the bases. Christian Ibarra hit a slow roller that third baseman Paul McConkey threw past first. Ibarra got an RBI single and went to second as Rhymes scored on the throwing error. Jones’ two-run single made it 5-1.
The Tigers increased the lead to 8-1 in the sixth. Ross led off with a single and after a flyout, Laird forced Ross at second. Bregman walked and Rhymes singled him home and went to second on the throw home. Katz followed with a two-run single that made it 8-1.
Jones started a three-run rally in the seventh with a leadoff single. After a balk and a groundout, Ross walked and McMullen hit a sacrifice fly. An error by shortstop Matt Reida allowed Ross to score and kept the inning alive for Bregman, who hit and RBI triple to extend his hit streak to 18 games and extend the lead to 11-1.
The Tigers led 1-0 as Nola didn’t allow a hit in the first four innings, but things changed with one out in the top of fifth. Reida singled and Nola hit Micheal Thomas with a pitch. Austin Cousino singled in the tying run, sending Thomas to third, but Nola escaped with the score still tied as Zac Zellers hit into a double play.
LSU took a 1-0 lead in the third. Ross, who was batting just .179, led off with a single and McMullen followed by singling him to second.
Laird failed to get a sacrifice bunt down, but moved the runners up anyway with a grounder back to the mound. Bregman followed with a sacrifice fly and McMullen advanced to third. Rhymes walked, but Katz left runners on the corners when he forced Rhymes at second.
Nola retired the Wildcats in order in the first three innings, getting some nice defensive plays behind him.
Laird jumped to catch Reed’s drive to the wall in right center to end the first. After Nola struck out the side in the second he got three nice plays behind him in the third.
McMullen lost McConkey’s fly to straight-away right in the lights, running to shallow right-center, but Laird came over from center to make a diving catch. Katz made a scoop at first of Bregman’s throw in the dirt on Reida’s grounder to short and Rhymes went back in left to snare Thomas’ line drive.
Kentucky got its first base-runner when Cousino walked leading off the fourth. That was the eighth walk allowed by Nola, one more than he allowed last season.
Zellers sacrificed Cousino to second before Reed struck out looking. After falling behind J.T. Riddle 3-0, Nola intentionally walked him, then Cousino stole third and Riddle stole second on separate pitches.
Nola walked Max Kuhn to load the bases, giving Nola three walks in the inning and three in a game for just the second time in his career. He escaped the threat when Kyle Barrett popped to center.