LSU starter Tyler Jones hurled a magnificent complete-game shutout and struck out a career-high 15 batters to lift the Tigers past New Orleans, 5-0, Tuesday night at Maestri Field.
The Tigers (34-19) have won 10 out of the past 12 games and posted a season sweep of the Privateers (3-48).
LSU will travel to Starkville to face Mississippi State, beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. CDT, in the final SEC regular season series of 2011.
Jones recorded the most strikeouts by an LSU pitcher since Anthony Ranaudo fanned 15 in a victory over Auburn on April 24, 2009. The junior was absolutely dominant on the evening, allowing only three hits and a walk and firing 78 of his 108 pitches for strikes.
First baseman Mason Katz and center fielder Mikie Mahtook each provided two hits and an RBI to pace the Tigers at the plate. Mahtook also notched his fifth triple of the season, while third baseman Tyler Hanover got LSU going offensively in the sixth, delivering the Tigers’ first run on a clutch, RBI single.
In addition, second baseman JaCoby Jones finished 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of runs scored, and designated hitter Raph Rhymes drove in a run on an RBI double.
Jones’ brilliance spoiled a fine effort from UNO starter Tyler Sanders (1-11), who surrendered only one earned run off six hits and three walks in seven innings but was charged with the tough-luck loss.
“Tyler Jones was just phenomenal tonight,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “I’m very happy for him. This has been a very trying season for Tyler, and we’ve been waiting for that kind of game from him all season.
“The pressure was on us tonight. We really had nothing to gain and everything to lose. (UNO starter) Tyler Sanders really pitched well against us in the early-going, but we finally got some clutch hits from Tyler Hanover and Mason Katz in the later innings to come away with the victory.”
Both Jones and Sanders were dialed in early, treating the crowd to a pitchers’ duel with five scoreless innings to start the game. Jones kept the Privateer hitters off balance, allowing only two hits and a walk and fanning eight through five.
However, LSU broke the scoreless tie in the top of the sixth when Hanover came through with a two-out, RBI single to plate Katz from second.
The Tigers added another run in the top of the seventh after Katz laced an RBI single to right, bringing Jones home from third.
LSU pushed three more across in the ninth to take a comfortable 5-0 advantage. A pair of UNO errors on a pop fly allowed left fielder Trey Watkins to reach third and Jones to score. Rhymes then followed with an RBI double, and Mahtook drilled a run-scoring triple into the gap in left center two at-bats later.
Meanwhile, Jones continued to assert his dominance on the mound, retiring 12 of the last 14 batters to close out the game.