Paul Mainieri wore a smile for 25 minutes after LSU’s 7-3 win Sunday afternoon.
The Tiger head coach had good reason to grin. His Tigers put together nine solid innings Sunday. LSU didn’t do anything particularly flashy. The offense collected just two extra base hits, and the pitching staff only struck out five.
LSU used the sacrifice bunt, errorless defense and a slew of bullpen arms to clinically put away Purdue and complete the first three game sweep of the 2014 season.
“Today was just a good, solid, hard-fought game,” Mainieri said. “I don’t think we played poorly. Purdue’s pitchers were decent. We did some good stuff. We executed some good stuff…I like the things that the guys are doing. I like the way they’ve played the last several days.”
LSU put the pressure on early and threatened to take total control of the game in the first.
In his return to the leadoff spot, Sean McMullen chopped a single that handcuffed Purdue first baseman Connor Hudnall. Mark Laird and Alex Bregman followed with bunt singles to load the bases with no one out.
Connor Hale then slammed a line drive single to left to plate the game’s first run, and two men later Andrew Stevenson lifted a sacrifice fly to score the second.
Tyler Moore’s fly ball to left field ended the inning, but the Tigers had immediately seized the lead.
“That’s kind of the strategy now,” Mainieri said. “You try to avoid falling behind in the games because if you fall too far behind, having to try to hit yourself back into the game with the so-called dead bat era is very difficult.”
But Purdue, specifically Hudnall, produced the game’s biggest swing.
With a man on first, the big Boilermaker firstbaseman turned on a Cody Glenn fastball and deposited it into the bleachers in right field to even the score.
“It was a four-seam fastball,” Glenn said. “It was supposed to be outside, and I left it over the middle of the plate.”
Glenn, in his final audition for a weekend role entering conference play, tossed four innings, the two run homer his only blemish. He struck out two and fired 64 pitches before giving way to the bullpen.
Five Tiger relievers hurled the final five frames, yielding just one run.
Freshman Alden Cartwright retired all five batters he faced, and he handed the ball to junior lefty Zac Person who surrendered a bloop single before finishing off the sixth.
Nate Fury worked into some hot water to start the seventh, giving up a single and hitting a man. After a double steal, Cody Strong drove home Purdue’s third run of the game with a sacrifice fly. Sean McHugh ripped the next pitch Fury fired, but it was right at Hale, the second baseman, who doubled Brandon Krieg off at second to erase the threat.
Henri Faucheux and Parker Bugg slammed the door in the eighth and the ninth.
The Tiger lineup pounded out 12 hits in support of the strong pitching. Four LSU hitters collected multiple hits including Alex Bregman who finished the series 7-for-12.
“For us, it all starts with Bregman,” Mainieri said. “Bregman he had a great weekend all weekend.”
While Bregman’s multi-hit games come as little surprise, Chris Chinea’s two-hit effort was his first of the year. His double in the fourth gave LSU the lead, scoring Andrew Stevenson from second.
Mark Laird singled to open the fifth, and Bregman chopped one up the middle to send Laird wheeling to third. Bregman followed him up to second to put two runners in scoring position with no outs.
Connor Hale’s RBI groundout padded the Tiger lead, and then Kade Scivicque jerked a single through the left side to plate Bregman and make the score 5-2.
Stevenson followed with a ringing triple to right-center that allowed Scivicque to rumble around from first.
Scivique also singled to open the eighth to finish the weekend 6-for-10. Jake Fraley ran for him and came around to score to create the final margin.
LSU returns to action Tuesday night when Nicholls St. visits Alex Box Stadium.