Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
HOOVER, AL - After several weather delays the Tigers finally got their opportunity to take the field at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Thursday in the SEC Tournament night, dominating the Kentucky Wildcats, 11-6.
Ma’Khail Hilliard had a strong performance for LSU on the bump as he pitched six innings, giving up only two runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Hilliard earned the win and is now 7-1 on the season.
Offensively the Tigers picked up where they left off last weekend, staying hot at the plate with 13 hits despite missing both Jacob Berry (broken finger) and Cade Doughty (dislocated left shoulder) to injury.
Josh Pearson led the Tigers going 5-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs. Pearson became the first LSU player to record five hits in an SEC Tournament game as he hit three singles, one double and a two run homer.
“It was an unbelievable environment tonight, and I’m really thankful for our fans for coming and I thought it provided us a lot of energy.” Jay Johnson said. “I don't think there's a venue that could better prepare you for what's coming in the postseason. The SEC Tournament is a great, great event."
The Wildcats struck first, scoring two runs in the top of the second inning. But LSU answered with three runs in the bottom of the third as Tre’ Morgan registered a RBI, grounding out with the sacks loaded. Tyler McManus then ripped a two-run double off of the left field wall.
The Tigers plated three more runs in the fourth inning to increase their lead to 6-2 as Dylan Crews and Josh Pearson would each drive a run in with a couple of singles before Jordan Thompson laid down a sacrifice bunt for an RBI.
In the sixth inning, LSU added three more runs before Pearson would blast a two run homer to give LSU an 11-3 lead. It would be his eighth home run of the season.
Kentucky would add their final three runs in the top of the eighth inning on a three run home run by Devin Burkes.
“Kentucky is playing for a lot right now." Johnson added. "So we knew we were going to get their best shot. So we were able to withstand that, and then settle into the game and just play really mature baseball, which I was really happy to see.”
With the victory, LSU improves to 38-18 on the year, while Kentucky falls to 31-25.
Next up the #4 seed Tigers will face perhaps their toughest challenge of the season as the will face the #1 ranked, red
hot, Tennessee Volunteers on Friday. First pitch is set for 8:00pm CST and the contest will be televised on SEC Network.