Eighth-ranked Tigers advance to SEC Tournament semifinal with 7-2 win over No. 20 Arkansas
HOOVER, ALABAMA — Junior right-hander Aaron Nola fired 7.1 innings for his 10th win of the season Thursday, and catcher Tyler Moore collected three hits and two RBI as eighth-ranked LSU defeated No. 20 Arkansas, 7-2, in the SEC Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
LSU (42-14-1), which has won six straight games, advances to play at Noon Saturday in the tournament’s semifinal round. The Tigers will play the winner of Friday’s 3 p.m. contest between Arkansas (37-22) and Ole Miss.
Nola fired 110 pitches in the outing, limiting the Razorbacks to two runs on five hits in 7.1 innings with three walks and seven strikeouts. Nola earned his 29th career LSU victory and moved into a tie with Louis Coleman (2006-09) and Ben McDonald (1987-89) on the school’s all-time wins list.
Moore led LSU’s 12-hit attack by going 3-for-4 at the plate with a homer, a double and two RBI. LSU has collected 74 runs on 88 hits during its six-game win streak.
Arkansas starter Colin Poche’ (3-1) was charged with the loss, as he surrendered three runs on four hits in 2.2 innings with one walk and one strikeout.
“Obviously, a good win for the Tigers today,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Anytime you give the ball to Nola, you feel confident about your chances. He struggled through the first inning with limited damage. It could have been worse; we could have gotten ourselves into a pretty big hole, but Aaron pitched out of it like he typically does.”
Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when designated hitter Clark Eagan singled, moved to second on leftfielder Joe
Serrano’s grounder to short, advanced to third on second baseman Brian Anderson’s single, and scored when Moore made an errant throw in attempting to erase Anderson at second base.
The Tigers tied the game at 1-1 in the second when Moore launched a solo homer, his fourth dinger of the year and the first allowed this season by Poche’.
“I wasn’t really trying to make up for the error; I was just trying to get something going and it happened to be a home run,” Moore said.
LSU struck for two runs in the third as shortstop Alex Bregman doubled and scored on designated hitter’s Chris Chinea’s RBI single, and Jake Fraley – running for Chinea – scored on a run-scoring single by leftfielder Sean McMullen.
The Tigers added a run in the sixth when McMullen singled, moved to second on first baseman Conner Hale’s groundout and scored on Moore’s RBI single.
The Tigers scored another run in the seventh in unusual fashion – rightfielder Mark Laird tagged and raced home from third when Fraley popped out in front of the third base dugout, but none of the Arkansas defenders covered home plate.
LSU increased the lead to 7-1 in the seventh when Laird ripped a two-out, two-run single to score third baseman Christian Ibarra, who had walked, and Moore, who had singled.
Arkansas loaded the bases scored a run that was charged to Nola in the eighth, but relievers Nate Fury and Zac Person each recorded an out in the inning to end the threat.
LSU closer Joe Broussard worked around a lead-off walk to retire the Razorbacks in the ninth, recording two strikeouts.