BATON ROUGE — If the LSU No. 1 baseball has any weaknesses at the plate, batting versus left-handed pitching would be the primary one. At the start of Friday’s series opener against No. 3 Arkansas, the Tigers had just a .264 batting average against left-handed pitchers.
After Friday this batting average certainly didn’t get much better.
LSU lost the first game of their three-game set with Arkansas on Friday, going 9-3 in 10 innings. Despite a brilliant performance from LSU ace Paul Skenes, the Tigers (19-3, 2-2 SEC) couldn’t run until Brady Neal hit a solo home run in the eighth inning.
Against Arkansas (20-2, 4-0) starter Hunter Hollan and top reliever Hagen Smith (both left-handers), the Tigers had seven hits but mustered only two extra-base knocks in nine innings.
After Skenes was knocked out in the seventh inning, Chase Shores threw two scoreless innings with relief. But the bullpen fell apart on the 10th when Christian Little gave up a three-run home run and conceded a victim flyout and a grand slam to Will Hellmers.
The Tigers play a double header tomorrow, Game 2 of the series is at 1 p.m
Paul Skenes dominates again
What else can be said that hasn’t already been said about Skenes.
The LSU ace was arguably the best pitcher in college baseball this season. And on Friday against a top-five team in the nation, he batted 12 batters and allowed just one run in seven innings as his ERA now stands at .72 a year.
Skenes came firing out of the gates, hitting 101 mph on the radar gun several times. The only hard shot he gave up was a double in the fourth inning. The only jam he got into came in the sixth inning when he walked three batters but escaped without allowing any runs.
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Poor start for the bats
As Skenes kept dishing out, LSU’s sluggers couldn’t do him any favors to start the game.
The Tigers were kept scoreless, recording just two hits in five innings. Only one ball was hit hard: Tre Morgan laced up a three from the midfield wall with two outs in the fourth inning.
However, Morgan’s huge success resulted in no runs as he was kicked out when he attempted to take home plate on a wild pitch.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South region. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @KokiRiley.
This article originally appeared in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser: LSU Baseball: Tigers fall to Arkansas despite strong start from Paul Skenes