POSTED: Monday, February 23, 2009 - 2:28am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:57pm
Shortstop DJ LeMahieu hit two triples and second baseman Ryan Schimpf homered Sunday to lift top-ranked LSU (3-0) to a 6-3 victory and the series sweep over Villanova (0-3).
LeMahieu became the first LSU player to hit two triples in one game since Jeff Leaumont did it against Kentucky in 1999. It was third triple in the series for LeMahieu, who finished the weekend 5-for-11 with three RBI.
Schimpf, a preseason All-American, finished the game 3-for-3 with a home run, two RBI and two stolen bases. He finished the weekend 7-for-10 with six RBI and four stolen bases.
“He played great,” head coach Paul Mainieri said of Schimpf. “No one on our team works harder than he does and no one is more of a team player than him. I normally don’t call him spectacular, but that home run he hit was pretty spectacular.”
The Tigers (3-0) completed their fifth-straight weekend series sweep dating back to last season. The 29 runs scored by LSU were the most runs scored in an opening weekend series since 2005 when the Tigers put up 37 against Nicholls State.
Villanova closed the gap to 5-3 in the eighth inning when centerfielder Justin Bencsko singled to bring home Joe Cotter. Bencsko scored from first when the next batter, Dain Hall, laced a double to left centerfield. Both hits came off freshman right-hander Spencer Matthews, who lasted one-third of an inning and allowed two runs on three hits.
Junior right-hander Paul Bertuccini came on in the eighth got the save for the Tigers pitching one and two-thirds innings allowing no hits and striking out three.
“In the end we did find a way to win,” Mainieri said. “Bertuccini came in and made some big pitches for us as he has his whole career. I told the guys we’re not going to beat everyone by ten runs every game, so you have to find a way to win the close ones.”
Villanova took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when third baseman Kevin Wager laced a triple over the head of a diving Leon Landry in center field, scoring first baseman Kyle Carver, who doubled a few pitches earlier.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the third inning when Schimpf blasted a solo homer over the right field wall to tie the game 1-1. After issuing consecutive walks to Blake Dean and Micah Gibbs with two outs, Wildcat starter Kyle Helisek gave up a triple LeMahieu that scored Dean and Gibbs to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
After doubling to deep left field in the fourth inning, Chris McGhee, who started in left field, stole third and later scored on an infield single by Landry to extend the Tiger lead to 4-1. Landry stole second a few pitches later and scored on another infield single by Schimpf to put the Tigers up 5-1.
Helisek (0-1) left the game in the fourth inning after going three and two-thirds innings allowing five runs on five hits while walking five and striking out one.
Meanwhile, LSU starter Austin Ross (1-0) worked out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth inning to finish the game allowing only one run on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts in six innings of work.
The Tigers will be back in action Wednesday in Alex Box Stadium when they play host to cross-town rival Southern. The first pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.