NASHVILLE — Vanderbilt welcomed Kyle Bouman into the Southeastern Conference rather rudely.
The Commodores knocked around LSU’s starter in a three-run first inning and the Tigers bats were muted in a 5-3 loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday, as the Dores claimed Game 1 of a doubleheader and evened the three-game series.
The two teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday with the threat of rain Sunday. The second game, the rubber match in the series, was not complete by press time.
In Game 1, Vanderbilt starter Jared Miller tossed a two-hitter through 6 2/3 innings, and LSU (17-3, 1-1 SEC) went four straight frames without a runner reaching base in front of a sold-out Hawkins Field.
The Commodores (17-3, 1-1) scored two in the seventh to extend their lead to 5-1, and the Tigers’ had an eighth-inning two-run rally that fell short a night after storming back in the eighth to win the series opener.
LSU had just four hits in the game.
“We had some nice hits, had a rally going,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “Just a little bit too little too late.”
Bouman’s first SEC game started poorly.
He walked the first batter and allowed two doubles and a triple in a 41-pitch first inning before settling in. He allowed a single and a walk in the next three innings before being pulled after the fourth.
“A little rough, but just got to go out and get the next one,” Bouman said between games of his outing.
Miller, meanwhile, hurled a gem.
He retired 15 straight starting with the final batter in the second inning, pushing aside Sean McMullen’s lead-off double to open the game.
The streak ended when he issued a two-out walk in the seventh inning to Conner Hale.
Hale was LSU’s first man to reach base since a second-inning error.
“We hit some balls hard, but on this turf the ball doesn’t take any bad bounces and their infielders really know how to play it,” Mainieri said, referring to Vanderbilt’s full artificial surface.
Miller faced the minimum from the second to the sixth innings and induced doubles plays from Andrew Stevenson and Alex Bregman early on.
Kade Scivicque chased Miller with a streaking two-out RBI single in the seventh to bring home Hale and pull LSU to 3-1. It was only Miller’s second run given up this season. LSU had a chance to tag Miller early.
McMullen started the game with a double to the right field corner, and Mark Laird reached on an error by third baseman Xavier Turner, who couldn’t handle a hard-hit grounder.
Bregman hit into a double play, and then Hale’s screaming liner to center was caught to strand McMullen at third.
“It was a tough start for our team,” Mainieri said.
Vanderbilt added two runs in the seventh inning off Nate Fury’s replacement, Henri Faucheux. Faucheux’s first batter, Rhett Wiseman, hit a two-out double off the 35-foot green wall in left field to move Turner. Turner singled off Fury.
Vince Conde then smashed a single up the middle to score two and make it 5-1.
“I debated about walking Conde, but I didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on Faucheux, have to pitch with the bases loaded,” Mainieri said. “Unfortunately, Conde got the ball just out of the reach of our infielders. They got the two runs which proved to be the difference in the game.”
In the eighth inning, LSU got the first two men aboard on Stevenson’s single — which extended his hitting streak to 17 games — and an infield single from pinch-hitter Jake Fraley, who beat the throw from the third baseman.
Kramer Robertson and McMullen drove in runs with groundouts to make it 5-3.
McMullen, LSU’s lead-off man, returned to the starting lineup after sitting to start Friday’s 4-2 comeback win with a gluteal muscle injury.