LSU clinches weekend series against Hornets
Senior pitcher John Valek III faced the minimum in six of his seven innings to lead fifth-ranked LSU to an 11-1 win over Sacramento State Sunday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU improved to 5-2 on the season with the series win, while Sacramento State dropped to 4-3.
Valek is now 2-0 on the year with Sunday’s win. The southpaw struck out six and limited the Hornets to one run on four hits with no walks.
Sacramento State starter Max Karnos (0-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing five runs on seven hits through four innings of work.
“John Valek was obviously the story of the game,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He was terrific; he threw strikes and he kept their hitters off balance with his two-seam fastball and his change-up. Most importantly, he shut them down right after we had a big inning, and he never allowed them to gain any momentum.”
The Tigers used a five-run third inning to grab the momentum early. Shortstop Cole Freeman reached on a fielding error, and second baseman Kramer Robertson followed with an infield single to third base to put runners on the corners.
Centerfielder Jake Fraley ripped a single through the left side of the field to give LSU a 1-0 lead.
After freshman Antoine Duplantis walked on four pitches to load the bases, leftfielder Beau Jordan lined a one-out double to right-center field to clear the bases. First baseman Bryce Jordan tallied a single to center field to score Bryce Jordan and give the Tigers a 5-0 lead.
“The Jordan brothers have such a positive influence on our team,” Mainieri said. “They’re such great leaders, and you can tell there’s a difference when they’re in the lineup. I thought they both impacted this game in a big way.”
Bryce Jordan doubled to center field with one out in the fifth inning. Designated hitter Greg Deichmann skipped a two-out single up the middle in the fifth to score Jordan and push the LSU lead to 6-0.
Freeman led off the sixth with a single up the middle. The freshman stole second, stole third and then scored on a throwing error by catcher Gunner Pollman. With Robertson on third after a walk and single by Fraley, Duplantis continued his hot start with an RBI single to center field. It marked Duplantis' seventh-straight game with a hit.
The Hornets put their lone run on the board in the top of the seventh off of Valek. Blake Edmonson led off with a double to left-center field and eventually scored on a one-out single by designated hitter Matt Smith.
LSU took advantage of mistakes by the Hornets with two outs in the seventh inning to push the lead to 11-1. LSU loaded the bases with an O'Neal Lochridge walk, single by Freeman and Robertson hit by pitch. Gorgolinski then threw two consecutive wild pitches to score Lochridge and Freeman. An error by Pollman behind the plate on his throw back to the pitcher scored Robertson.
“I was proud of the way we responded after the loss yesterday,” Mainieri said. “We take a lot of pride around here in not having losing streaks, and our players came out to the park today determined to win. I think we learned a lot about our team this week, and some things which may have been negative in the short term can benefit us over the entire course of the season.”