Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Nola's 13 Ks lift LSU
LSU's Aaron Nola pitches in the second inning of their Southeastern Conference Tournament NCAA college baseball game against Arkansas at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, May 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
FAYETTEVILLE Aaron Nola's mastery of Arkansas continued Friday night.
Nola struck out a career-high 13 batters in seven innings as No. 16 LSU beat the Razorbacks 5-3 at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. Nola improved to 3-0 in his fourth career start against Arkansas and to 7-1 this season.
The junior right-hander has pitched 29 1/3 career innings against the Razorbacks, striking out 40 batters and allowing only seven runs.
Arkansas (21-14, 6-7 SEC) had a chance for a breakthrough against Nola in the seventh inning, but Clark Eagan was thrown out at third base after turning back between the base pad and home plate. The base running blunder negated an opportunity for the Razorbacks to have the bases loaded with one out in the inning and Nola struck out Michael Bernal to end the threat.
Nola walked Tyler Spoon to start the eighth inning, ending his night after throwing 115 pitches. After Joe Serrano walked with one out, Brian Anderson pulled Arkansas within 5-3 with a two-run double. The Razorbacks added another base runner, but the inning ended when Bobby Wernes grounded out to first base.
Joe Broussard pitched 1 2/3 innings to pick up the win for the Tigers (26-8-1, 7-5-1 SEC).
Aided by an error by Bernal at shortstop, LSU took the lead on an Alex Bregman two-run single in the first inning. The Tigers extended their lead to 4-0 with Sean McMullen's two-run home run in the fourth.
After Eric Fisher pulled Arkansas within 4-1 with a leadoff home run in the fifth inning, LSU scored again in the bottom of the seventh. With one out Spoon made a diving catch from his spot in center field to rob Kramer Robertson of a hit and set up a relay throw to double up Tyler Moore at first base. But Andrew Stevenson tagged from third base and scored before the double play was completed to extend the Tigers' lead to 5-1.
All five runs came off Arkansas starter Trey Killian, who allowed five hits and struck out three batters in his third complete game of the season. Killian fell to 1-6 this season with the Razorbacks scoring only eight runs combined in his last six starts.
The two teams are scheduled again Saturday at noon. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.