Contributed by : Alissa Cavaretta
Communications Graduate Assistant
BATON ROUGE, La. — Junior pitcher Cam Sanders matched his career-high in strikeouts with eight and Zach Watson went 3-for-5 with two runs and a RBI as the No. 13 LSU defeated Southern, 8-2, Tuesday night in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
With the win, LSU improves to 9-4 on the season while Southern drops to 4-8.
LSU continues its midweek slate with a game at UL-Lafayette at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by Cox Sports Television and will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network, including 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge.
Sanders (1-0) earned the first win of his LSU career after firing 5.1 innings. The junior right-hander matched his career-high strikeouts with eight and limited Southern to two runs on two hits and walked two.
Sophomore Todd Peterson worked the final 3.2 innings for the Tigers and earned his first save of the season after shutting out the Jaguars and limiting them to three hits. The right-hander also struck out six.
“I thought it was Cam’s best outing; he came out in the first inning and started pounding the strike zone,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He threw a lot of strikes and had both a good fastball and a good curveball working. I thought Todd Peterson really threw the ball well; he was throwing hard up to 94 miles per hour, and he was throwing strikes. I thought both of those guys had confidence-building performances tonight.”
Southern starter Jacob Snyder suffered the loss and moves to 1-2 on the season. The southpaw allowed one run on three hits and walked one in two innings.
Watson, who had been sidelined for two weeks by a pulled oblique muscle, played Tuesday night for the first time since February 18 versus Notre Dame.
“Wasn’t it great to see Zach Watson back in our lineup?” Mainieri said. “He was out there in center field running balls down, swinging the bat, stealing bases. I just thought he looked great and was a real sparkplug for our team tonight.”
In the bottom of the first LSU took the 1-0 lead. Rightfielder Antoine Duplantis drew a walk, setting the table for center fielder’s Watson’s first at-bat back from injury. The sophomore ripped a double to left field to put runners in scoring position, and designated hitter Austin Bain hit into a fielder’s choice to drive in Duplantis.
Bryce Jordan started the bottom of the fourth inning with a walk and advanced to third with one out after a wild pitch and a balk. Second baseman Chris Reid drove Bryce Jordan home with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. With the bases cleared, shortstop Hal Hughes ripped a double down the left field line. The freshman scored after an error by the first baseman allowed Duplantis to get on base. In the next at-bat, Duplantis touched home on a roaring single to center field by Watson as LSU gained the 4-0 advantage.
With one out in the top of the fifth, center fielder Javeyan Williams was hit by a pitch and then stole second base. On a strikeout by right fielder Rashad Raine, Williams moved to third and then scored on a wild pitch to cut LSU’s lead to 4-1.
The Tigers tacked on an additional run in the bottom of the fifth. Left fielder Beau Jordan and Jake Slaughterdrew consecutive walks to open the bottom half of the frame, and the duo moved to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Bryce Jordan. Catcher Nick Coomes followed the sacrifice bunt with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to drive in Beau Jordan and extend LSU’s lead to 5-1.
Southern’s Franky Montesino led off the sixth with a single. The third baseman advanced to second on a walk issued to designated hitter John Pope and then stole third. With two outs, catcher Bobby Johnson singled to centerfield, driving in Montesino, and Southern shortened LSU’s lead to three runs, 5-2.
In the bottom of the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one out, LSU answered Southern’s run in the top half of the inning when Beau Jordan sent a fly ball to left field to drive in Watson.
The Tigers added two runs in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Slaughter walked to drive in Watson, who had led off the inning with a single to left field. Later in the inning catcher Hunter Feducciagrounded out to second, driving in Cabrera to finalize the score, 8-2.