BATON ROUGE, La. -- A dominating performance from star right-hander Ryan Eades and a four-run third inning lifted No. 2 LSU to a 9-1 win over No. 7 Kentucky to clinch the series, on a gorgeous Saturday night in front of 11,608 at Alex Box Stadium.
Kentucky (22-8, 6-5 Southeastern Conference) saw the Tigers jump out to an early lead with a run in the second and a four-run frame in the third. LSU then rode the dominating right arm of Eades, who improved to 7-0 in his eighth start of the year. The win gives LSU the best start in the history of the storied program.
The Tigers – sporting the SEC’s leading offensive club – got to UK starter Jerad Grundy (5-3), who was roughed up in his eighth weekend start of the year. Grundy worked six innings, allowing career highs in hits (15) and runs (nine), walking one as he battled to save the UK bullpen for Sunday after allowing the four-spot in the third.
UK freshman righty Kyle Cody came on to start the seventh, working a shutout frame with a hit and a strikeout. Freshman lefty Ryne Combs worked the eighth, allowing a walk and getting the third double play of the game from the Wildcats to end the inning.
Eades worked 8.2 innings allowing only four UK singles, one walk and striking out six in his gem. The standout right-hander improved his sparkling ERA to 1.30. Lefty Hunter Devall came on to get the final out of the game.
UK got four hits in the game, as Zac Zellers went 2-for-4 and catcher Micheal Thomas and A.J. Reed singled. Austin Cousino added a ninth-inning walk and Max Kuhn forced in UK’s run of the game with a sacrifice fly.
The series will conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Alex Box Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. UK will send junior southpaw Corey Littrell (4-0, 2.17 ERA) to the mound.
LSU jumped on the board in the bottom of the second inning, as Christian Ibarra smacked a liner down the leftfield line that was bobbled in leftfield and was scored for a double. After a groundout, Ty Ross singled to rightfield to score Ibarra for a 1-0 LSU lead.
The Tigers added to their lead in the third inning as Sean McMullen led off reaching second base on a double after it was ruled that rightfielder Kyle Barrett trapped the ball on his diving attempt. After a wild pitch moved McMullen to third, Alex Bregman singled him home with a smash through the left side. After a Raph Rhymes single, Mason Katz cleared the duo with a double down the leftfield line, scoring on Ibarra’s groundout.
LSU got a run in the fourth, as Ross singled, took second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on McMullen’s double into the gap. Bregman then scored McMullen with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
The Tigers got two runs in the fifth as a ball got lost in the rightfield lights with two outs, allowing two runs to score.
UK got on the board in the ninth, as Cousino drew a walk and scored on Kuhn’s sacrifice fly.