No. 3 LSU Splits Twin-bill with No. 29 Baseball
March 15, 2009
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Freshman Alex Meyer made his first career Southeastern Conference start and held No. 3 LSU to a season-low two hits, but junior second baseman Ryan Schimpf belted a two-run home run in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie and lift the Tigers to a 3-1 series-clinching win over No. 29 Kentucky, Sunday afternoon in front of 9,185 fans at Alex Box Stadium.
Schimpf's homer broke open a 1-1 tie and served as the first hit the Tigers recorded off freshman right-handed starter Alex Meyer. Meyer, a 6-foot-8, 205-pounder, got the start in the second game of the doubleheader, after UK rode a stellar pitching performance from senior Chris Rusin and a 3-for-3 day at the plate from catcher Marcus Nidiffer in game one, a 5-2 UK win.
Meyer, rated as the second-best freshman in all of college baseball and the best in the SEC by Baseball America in the preseason, was nearly unhittable before giving up the two-run homer. Before Schimpf's homer, Meyer had tossed 9.1 hitless innings over a span of his last two starts, as the Greensburg, Ind., native hurled six hitless innings in his second career start Tuesday. Meyer (1-1) finished the game with only two hits allowed, three runs, five walks and a career-best six strikeouts in five innings of work. Sophomore southpaw Logan Darnell finished off the game, tossing a scoreless bottom of the sixth.
"He looked like he was throwing the ball 100 mph," LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said of Meyer. "Kentucky's three starters (James Paxton, Chris Rusin and Alex Meyer) presented as great of a challenge as any we've ever faced. If every team in the league has three arms as good as those it's going to be a long year. It was a very competitive, hard-fought series this weekend, and I'm proud of our players for earning two wins."
The Sunday twin-bill consisted of two seven-inning contests, due to a rainout Saturday and per Southeastern Conference travel regulations.
LSU (13-4, 2-1 SEC) rode a dynamic pitching performance from its closer/Sunday starter, Louis Coleman, who worked all seven innings, allowing only four hits, one run and striking out seven. Coleman, who entered the start with a perfect 0.00 ERA in 15.2 innings, tossed 90 pitches in the game, 35 in a win Friday, 28 in a mid-week game Wednesday and 16 last Sunday - a total of 169 pitches in a span of seven days for the righty, including 153 in the last five games. UK's lone run was the only earned run Coleman has allowed on the season.
The Tigers, ranked No. 1 last week, entered the series averaging over 11 runs per game in its 14 opening games, but the UK pitching staff held the Tigers to five runs Friday and two and three runs respectively in the twin-bill. The Wildcat staff struck out 28 LSU hitters in 23 combined innings in the series, a LSU lineup that entered the weekend with a 101-94 walk-strikeout ratio. LSU, the 2008 SEC Tournament and Western Division champion, had now won five consecutive conference weekend series, dating back to 2008.
UK, which started as many as six freshmen in the lineup during the series, was led offensively by senior first baseman Spencer Korus, who charted the only multi-hit game for the Wildcats. Chris Bisson (pronounced: BEES-own) and Troy Frazier added the other two hits, with Bisson's leading off the game in the top of the first.
Kentucky (12-4, 1-2 SEC) returns to action as part of its five-game road swing, traveling to Thibodaux, La., to face Nicholls State Monday. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be heard live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price calling the action.
LSU got on the board first, as outfielder Jared Mitchell, considered the best athlete in all of college baseball, worked an eight-pitch, lead-off walk. Mitchell, a wide receiver on LSU's football team, proceeded to steal his NCAA-leading 14th and 15th bases of the season, scoring on Tyler Hanover's sacrifice fly to left-center field. Meyer got out of the jam, striking out All-American's Blake Dean and D.J. LeMahieu.
UK, who entered the games Sunday with the nation's seventh-best RPI and the best in the SEC, immediately responded with a run in the top of the second, as Frazier belted a one-out double into the right-center field gap and Korus scored him with a single through the right side, evening the game at 1-1.
LSU took the lead, 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning. After Meyer got Dean to pop out, he worked a 0-2 count on Schimpf. Schimpf, a left-handed hitting second baseman, ended Meyer's streak of 9.1 consecutive hitless innings pitched with a two-run homer over the right-field fence. In his last start, Meyer tossed six hitless innings and had not allowed a hit in his first 3.1 innings against the Tigers. Meyer immediately responded with a pop out and a strikeout to get out of the frame.