BATON ROUGE, La. - Shortstop Jordan Thompson and rightfielder Brayden Jobert each launched a grand slam Thursday night to lift top-ranked LSU to a 16-6 victory over No. 11 Kentucky inside Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU improved to 28-5 on the season and 8-4 in conference play, while the Wildcats dropped to 27-6 overall and 9-4 in SEC action.
The second game of the LSU-Kentucky series is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. CT first pitch on Friday, and it will be streamed on SEC Network+. The matchup will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates.
Designated hitter Cade Beloso scorched a home run to right field to account for the third dinger from LSU on the night. He posted a line of 1-for-2 with three RBI and two HBP. Third baseman Tommy White collected the first two RBI of the contest with a two-RBI double to left field in the first inning.
“I’m really proud of our guys and the at-bats that they took,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “I felt like they showed up to the park super determined today, and you could see it in batting practice. That’s how they show up every day, but I had a really good feeling going into the game tonight that we were ready to play.
“We came off of a good game on Tuesday (at Tulane), and we carried that momentum forward. We want to be one of those teams that if you give us an inch, we’re going to take mile, and we did that in the first three innings.”
LSU starter Paul Skenes (6-1) earned the victory for the Tigers. Skenes, who leads the country in strikeouts, fanned 13 batters to match his career high. After picking up his ninth strikeout of the night, his season total hit 100, and it currently sits at 104. Skenes pitched 6.0 innings and gave up five runs – four earned -- on seven hits with one walk.
“Paul has set such a high bar and high standard, and eventually, he was going to give up a few runs,” Johnson said. “You don’t see that very often, so credit to Kentucky for getting some swings on him. I’m very proud of Paul, and I’m glad we could get this win for him tonight.”
Kentucky starter Zach Hise (1-1) was charged with the loss after tossing 1.2 innings and allowing 11 runs – six earned -- on four hits. He gave up two home runs and three extra-base hits.
After a scoreless top of the first, the Tigers opened the scoring in the bottom half, striking for six runs. The inning began with a hit-by-pitch from second baseman Gavin Dugas and an intentional walk issued to centerfielder Dylan Crews. White drove in both runs with a double to give LSU a 2-0 lead.
With an early lead, Beloso reached via an HBP, and first baseman Jared Jones hit a double to right field. Thompson came to the plate and smashed his sixth homer of the season - this one of grand slam variety - to increase the margin to 6-0.
With the dinger – the first grand slam of his career – Thompson has now homered in four straight games.
In the top of the second, the Wildcats reached two straight singles. Kentucky second baseman Emilien Pitre reached third base by tagging up on a fly ball to right field. The visitors scratched across their first run with an RBI single from right fielder Nolan McCarthy and shortened the lead to five.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the second, scratching across five more runs, including the second grand slam of the ballgame - this time from Jobert. Before putting up four runs, left fielder Tre’ Morgan reached base with the third HBP thrown by Wildcat pitchers. Following Morgan’s at-bat, White reached on a fielding error and Beloso got hit by another pitch.
Jobert launched his sixth dinger of the year – and his second career grand slam -- to make the score 11-1. LSU, which has hit five grand slams this season, hit two in a game for the first time since May 13, 2014, when the Tigers blasted two grand slams versus Northwestern State in Alex Box Stadium.
Beloso joined the home run parade, launching a home run to right field in the bottom of the third. Crews reached base with the fifth HBP thrown by the Wildcats, and White singled up the middle. Beloso’s ensuing three-run dinger was his fifth of the season and gave LSU a 14-1 lead.
Kentucky scored four runs across the fourth and fifth inning, and the Wildcats added one in the seventh to reduce the margin to 14-6.
LSU tacked on the final two runs of the game, and catcher Alex Milazzo lined an RBI single through the left side in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Tigers the run-rule victory.
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