LSU right-handers Kevin Gausman and Aaron Nola outdueled four Appalachian State University pitchers to lead the seventh-ranked Tigers to a 4-0 victory over visiting ASU on Friday evening at Alex Box Stadium. Appalachian (2-2) limited LSU (5-0) to single runs in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings but Gausman and Nola made the scarce scoring hold up for Bayou Bengals. The duo combined to surrender
just four hits while striking out 11 Mountaineers and walking none. With its third shutout of the young season, LSU lowered its team ERA to a miniscule 1.20.
As magnificent as Gausman and Nola were, ASU’s four pitchers were nearly as good against an LSU club that was averaging 11 runs per game and hitting .333 as a team coming in to the contest. Mountaineer starter Seth Grant (Henderson, N.C./Etowah) kept the Tigers off-balance for much of his 5.2 innings of work but, buoyed by a couple of botched defensive plays and a pair of two-out RBI, LSU managed to scratch out four runs against the ASU righty.
Fielding miscues led directly to two of the Tigers’ four runs. In the second inning, Grant seemingly had LSU’s Mason Katz picked off second base but an apparent miscommunication between Grant and second baseman Hector Crespo (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian) allowed Katz to scamper back to the bag. Three batters later, Katz scored the first run of the game on a looping two-out RBI single by No. 8 hitter Ty Ross that landed just inside the right-field line.
The second costly defensive flub came in the fourth. With Appalachian trailing just 2-0 and LSU runners on the corners with one out, Grant fielded a routine comebacker to the mound. However, the senior did not look the runner back to third before firing to second base in an attempt to turn an inning-ending double play. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Grant’s throw was slightly off-target and ASU got only one out on the play while the runner easily scored from third to stretch the LSU lead to 3-0.
After the three-consecutive one-run frames, Grant settled in to retire the next five batters he faced and was one strike away from getting out of the sixth inning before allowing a two-out single to Austin Nola. Sophomore Chad Farmer (Evans, Ga./Greenbrier) relieved Grant but walked Ross to move Nola into scoring position. Pinch-hitter Jared Foster followed the two-out walk with an RBI single that expanded the LSU advantage to 4-0.
Appalachian put runners in scoring position in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings but ASU, which was 9-for-31 (.290) with two outs in its first three games of the season, went 2-for-12 (.167) with two outs on Friday night. Three of the five runners that the Mountaineers left on base were stranded in scoring position.
Despite suffering the loss, Grant (0-1) was impressive in scattering seven hits and striking out three over 5.2 innings of work. ASU’s bullpen trio of Farmer, Tyler Moore (Banner Elk, N.C./Watauga) and Jamie Nunn (Winston-Salem, N.C./Mt. Tabor) worked 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.
Despite ASU’s overall effectiveness on the mound, the story of the night was the efforts of Gausman and Nola. Gausman (2-0) allowed just four hits, struck out seven and walked none in seven shutout innings before Nola closed it out with two innings of no-hit relief.
Katz and Ross had two hits apiece to pace LSU offensively. Preston Troutman (Rockwell, N.C./East Rowan), Will Callaway (Greenville, S.C./Eastside), Jeremy Dowdy (Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield) and Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) each had a hit to account for Appalachian’s offense.
The two teams meet again on Saturday at 3 p.m. (ET) in the middle game of their three-game weekend series.
NOTES: Despite the loss, Appalachian has still won three of its last five games versus Southeastern Conference opponents ... Grant extended his scoreless-innings streak to 16 before LSU pushed its first run across with two outs in the second ... the game was officially a sellout with 10,707 tickets sold at 10,150-seat Alex Box Stadium but only 5,585 were in attendance for the contest as temperatures dipped into the low 50s on a relatively chilly night in southeastern Louisiana.
Photo Courtesy: Tyler Moore, by Dave Mayo, ASU Athletics