BATON ROUGE, La. -- The LSU Tigers plated five runs through the first four innings and posted an 8-4 win over Kentucky, sweeping the Wildcats in front of 9,993 on Saturday at Alex Box Stadium.
Kentucky (20-24, 4-16 Southeastern Conference) got a breakout performance from senior Neiko Johnson, who made his return from injury with a 3-for-4 game, ripping a pair of RBI doubles. In four at bats during the weekend, Johnson had three doubles and four hits. The Wildcats also got a multi-hit game from catcher Luke Maile, who added two RBI. Chad Wright and Michael Williams added hits, with Wright reaching base safely for the 22nd consecutive game.
UK starter Taylor Rogers (2-6) suffered the loss, allowing four hits and five runs – four earned – walking three and striking out two in 3.2 innings. UK got a good outing from sophomore reliever Walter Wijas, who hurled 3.1 innings in relief of Rogers, keeping UK in the game after allowing only two earned runs, walking three and striking out one. UK called on senior southpaw Mike Kaczmarek in relief of Wijas with a runner on in the bottom of the eighth inning, with Kaczmarek allowing a two-run homer in his three outs recorded.
LSU (27-17, 6-14 SEC) starter Ben Alsup (6-4) picked up the win, tossing 5.2 innings, allowing six hits and four runs, not issuing a walk and striking out one. Kevin Berry relieved him and pitched 2.1 shutout innings, allowing only one hit with two strikeouts. LSU All-America closer Matty Ott got the final three outs in the ninth inning.
UK takes the midweek off due to final exams, before returning to action to host No. 3 Vanderbilt at Cliff Hagan Stadium starting on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The Friday-night game is projected to be a matchup of two of the best starters in college baseball, UK’s Alex Meyer and Vanderbilt’s Sonny Gray. The games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), 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.
The Tigers got on the board in the first inning, plating three runs on three hits, a walk and an error for a 3-0 lead.
Kentucky got on the board in the fourth courtesy of some two-out hitting, as Williams laced a line-drive single up the middle, coming around to score on a double into the left-centerfield gap, Johnson’s second double of the year. Maile then poked an RBI single into the gap in leftfield, with Johnson scoring from second to make it 4-2.
LSU scored run in the bottom of the fourth inning without a hit to take a 5-2 lead, getting two walks and two errors.
The Tigers got another run without a hit in the bottom of the fifth inning, taking advantage of a walk, a hit batter and the fifth UK error of the game.
UK continued to ride Johnson’s hot bat in the top of the sixth inning, as Braden Kapteyn got hit by a pitch to lead off and Johnson scored him with his second double of the game off the wall in leftfield, cutting the LSU lead to 6-3. Maile then scored Johnson with a stand-up double into the left-centerfield gap, making it 6-4 LSU.
The Tigers got a two-run homer from All-America centerfielder Mikie Mahtook in the eighth inning, giving LSU an 8-4 lead.
GAME NOTES: UK senior shortstop Taylor Black made his 85th consecutive start, Chad Wright his 52nd consecutive start and Braden Kapteyn his 50th straight start … Wright has reached base safely in 22 consecutive games and in 42 of UK’s 45 games in 2011 … Neiko Johnson reached on his second double of the year and his second in a span of three at bats at LSU … Johnson added a second double in the game and a third in the series in his next at bat, scoring Kapteyn … Luke Maile notched his ninth double of the year in the sixth inning … Kapteyn got hit by his SEC-leading 17th pitch of the year.