LEXINGTON, Ky. – Right-hander AJ Labas pitched six solid innings Saturday night and leftfielder Gavin Dugas tripled and homered to lead LSU to an 8-6 win over Kentucky at Kentucky Proud Park.
LSU improved to 20-11 overall, 3-8 in the SEC, while Kentucky dropped to 19-9 overall and 5-6 in conference play.
The teams meet in the series finale at 12 p.m. CT Sunday. The game will be streamed on SEC Network +, and it may be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.
Labas (2-0) limited the Wildcats to three runs on six hits in six innings with one walk and six strikeouts, firing 98 pitches. Freshman right-hander Garrett Edwards retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth inning to earn his third save of the season.
Dugas was 2-for-5 at the plate with a triple, a homer, two RBI and two runs scored. Designated hitter Cade Beloso was 2-for-2 with a double, two RBI and one run scored, and shortstop Jordan Thompson was 3-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored.
“I thought we played a good ball game for the second night in a row,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We came out again and had some really good at-bats and built a lead, and AJ pitched really well. I didn’t think Kentucky would go away, they didn’t, and they battled us right to the end. We were able to hang on, and it was a good win for us.”
Kentucky starting pitcher Ryan Hagenow (1-2) was charged with the loss, as he surrendered two runs on no hits in 1.1 innings with four walks and two strikeouts.
LSU scored two runs in the top of the second inning as second baseman Zach Arnold drew a bases-loaded walk and first baseman Tre’ Morgan lifted a sacrifice fly.
The Tigers expanded the lead to 4-0 in the second when Dugas tripled and scored on third baseman Cade Doughty’s single, and Beloso contributed a sacrifice fly. The triple by Dugas was the first of his LSU career.
A solo homer by Kentucky rightfielder Cam Hill narrowed the gap to 4-1 in the bottom of the third.
LSU, however, responded in the fourth with a two-run homer by Dugas, his ninth dinger of the season. Beloso’s RBI single in the fifth increased the margin to 7-1.
Kentucky plated four runs in the seventh in a rally highlighted by a two-run single by first baseman T.J. Collett and an RBI single by Hill.
The Wildcats added a run in the eighth to cut LSU’s lead to 7-6, but reliever Devin Fontenot ended the inning by getting Hill to ground into a fielder’s choice with runners on the corners.
“Devin just emptied his tank and gave us everything he had,” Mainieri said. “And I had all the confidence in the world that Garrett Edwards would come in and do the job in the ninth inning.”
Thompson’s two-out, RBI single in the top of the ninth scored Doughty with a huge insurance run for the Tigers before Edwards retired the Wildcats in order in the bottom of the frame to end the game.
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