Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Communications
By: William Franques
ROUND ROCK, Texas – Pitchers Paul Skenes and Ty Floyd limited Kansas State to four hits, and the LSU offense erupted for seven runs on 10 hits to propel the top-ranked Tigers to a Friday afternoon 7-3 victory in the first game of the Round Rock Classic at Dell Diamond.
The Tigers improved their overall record to 5-0, and the Wildcats dropped to 4-2 on the season.
LSU’s second game of the tournament pits the Tigers against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The contest is set for a noon CT start Saturday, and it can be streamed on D1Baseball.com via a pay-per-view subscription. The game can also be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates.
Skenes (2-0) was awarded the second victory of his career in the purple and gold despite the Wildcats’ offensive start.
“Paul is a great competitor, so he can work his way out of jams,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “He also has tremendous stuff. You put those two things together and you can minimize big innings. That’s what he did in the first inning, and he just got stronger as the game went along.
“I thought the pitching was the story of today, and I was really pleased with both Paul and (reliever) Ty Floyd. Ty came in and did a great job over the last three innings.”
Kansas State opened the scoring for the first game of the Round Rock Classic by making Skenes work to find the strike zone. With over 30 pitches under his belt in the first inning, the Wildcats had a couple of hits and free passes, scoring the game’s first run on an RBI single. Kansas State led 1-0 after one inning.
Skenes settled into the game in the second, throwing five consecutive scoreless innings. He finished his outing tossing six innings while giving up one run on two hits. Skenes picked up double-digit strikeouts for the second week in a row, picking up 11 strikeouts against Wildcat hitters.
Skenes had 12 strikeouts on February 17 when LSU hosted Western Michigan on opening day.
“Obviously, I had some adversity early,” Skenes said. ”Kansas State is a good team, and they got some barrels on the ball. I got into a tough situation and made some pitches to get out, which I was happy with. Ultimately, finding my change-up, finding my slider and having four-seam fastball command today was the difference. From the second through the sixth inning, I couldn’t have asked for anything more from an outing.”
After being stymied by Kansas State starter Owen Boerema in the bottom half of the first, the Tigers broke through in the second with three straight singles. Freshman catcher Brady Neal poked a single through the middle of the field scoring left fielder Tre’ Morgan from second. LSU tied the ballgame at one.
Both teams remained scoreless until the sixth frame.
In the bottom of the sixth, LSU centerfielder Dylan Crews and designated hitter Tommy White both picked up a single before the Wildcat reliever Ty Ruhl balked, which gave the Tigers two runners in scoring position. LSU broke a 1-1 tie when Ruhl tossed a wild pitch.
Ruhl (1-1) was charged with the loss, firing two innings, while giving up six runs on six hits.
The Tigers extended the lead to 3-1 with White beating out a throw home from Kansas State first baseman Roberto Pena on a sharp ground ball.
Floyd relieved Skenes in the top of the seventh and quickly picked up two strikeouts before Pena’s home run decreased the margin to 3-2. Floyd struck out the side to end the inning, all three strikeouts looking.
The Tiger offense further extended its lead in the bottom of the seventh that began with a walk and three straight singles. With pinch hitter Brayden Jobert occupying second base and third baseman Ben Nippolt on first base, second baseman Gavin Dugas roped a single up the middle to make the margin 4-2.
LSU added three more runs after a single from Crews and a double from first baseman Jared Jones torching a ball to the right-centerfield wall. The Tigers led 7-2 headed to the final two frames. The Wildcats would score their final run in the top of the ninth to account for the final margin, 7-3.
Floyd closed the final two innings and earned his first save of the season. Floyd’s final line consisted of 3.0 IP, two runs, two hits, and five strikeouts.