ROUND ROCK, Texas – Pitchers Paul Skenes and Ty Floyd limited Kansas State to four hits, and LSU’s offense exploded for seven runs on 10 hits to propel the Tigers to the top of the league to a 7-3 victory by Friday afternoon in game one of the Round Rock Classic at the Dell Diamond.
The Tigers improved their overall record to 5-0, while the Wildcats fell to 4-2 on the season.
Game 2 of the LSU tournament pits the Tigers against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The contest is set for Saturday at noon and can be streamed on D1Baseball.com via a pay-per-view subscription. The game can also be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates.
Skenes (2-0) earned the second win of his career in purple and gold despite the Wildcats’ offensive start.
“Paul is a great contender, so he can come out of jams,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “He also has extraordinary things. Put those two things together and you can minimize big innings. That’s what he did in the first inning, and he got stronger as the game went on.
“I thought the launch was today’s story, and I was really happy with both Paul and Ty Floyd. Ty came in and did a great job over the last three innings.
Kansas State opened the scoring for Game 1 of the Round Rock Classic by having Skenes work to find the strike zone. With over 30 pitches to his credit in the first inning, the Wildcats had a pair of free hits and passes, scoring the first run of the game on an RBI single. Kansas State led 1-0 after one inning.
Skenes established himself in the game in the second, pitching five consecutive scoreless innings. He finished his outing pitching six innings while giving up one run on two hits. Skenes had double-digit strikeouts for the second straight week, picking up 11 strikeouts against Wildcat batters.
Skenes had 12 strikeouts on February 17 as LSU hosted Western Michigan on Inauguration Day.
“Obviously, I had some hardship early on,” Skenes said. “Kansas State is a good team and they have some barrels on the ball. I got into a tough spot and took a few shots to get out, which I was happy with. In the end, finding my shifter, finding my cursor, and having four-seam fastball command today was the difference. From the second to the sixth inning, I couldn’t have asked for more from an outing.”
After being held up by Kansas State starter Owen Boerema in the bottom half of the first, the Tigers broke through in the second with three straight singles. Freshman catcher Brady Neal hit a single to center field scoring left fielder Tre’ Morgan from second. LSU tied the game at one.
Both teams remained scoreless until the sixth frame.
In the bottom of the sixth, LSU center fielder Dylan Crews and designated hitter Tommy White both picked up singles before Wildcat reliever Ty Ruhl refused, which gave the Tigers two runners in scoring position. LSU broke a 1-1 tie when Ruhl threw a wild pitch.
Ruhl (1-1) was blamed for the loss, shooting out two innings, giving up six runs on six hits.
The Tigers extended the lead to 3-1 with White hitting a throw home by Kansas State first baseman Roberto Pena on a sharp ground ball.
Floyd relieved Skenes in the top of the seventh and quickly picked up two strikeouts before Pena’s home run narrowed the margin to 3-2. Floyd hit the side to end the inning, all three strikeouts in pursuit.
The Tiger offense further extended its lead in the bottom of the seventh which began with a walk and three straight singles. With pinch hitter Brayden Jobert occupying second base and third baseman Ben Nippolt at first base, second baseman Gavin Dugas singled into center to make the margin 4-2.
LSU added three more runs after a single by Crews and a double by first baseman Jared Jones drove a ball into the right center field wall. The Tigers led 7-2 heading into the final two frames. The Wildcats would score their final run in the top of the 9th to account for the trailing margin, 7-3.
Floyd shut out the last two innings and earned his first save of the season. Floyd’s last at bat consisted of 3.0 IP, two runs, two hits and five strikeouts.