4.13.18 Baseball Vs Tennessee

LSU junior pitcher Clay Moffitt (35) pitches the ball during LSU’s 9-3 victory over University of Tennessee in Alex Box Stadium on Friday, April 13, 2018.

No. 12 LSU (20-9) controlled the first of two mid-week games as the Tigers trounced Grambling (12-16) 9-0 shutout behind a complete performance from the offense and pitching.

LSU’s offense showed up again after waking up in the weekend-series against Mississippi State. The Tigers jumped out to score in the first. LSU then loaded the bases in the second behind a single from freshman outfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo, which extended his hit streak to 10 games. The Tigers couldn’t capitalize in the innning, however.

It was again in the third inning when LSU extended its lead. The bats produced seven runs in the inning. The Tigers loaded the bases without recording an out and continued to hit throughout the lineup.

Sophomore catcher Brock Mathis cleared two runners on a deep sacrifice fly to center field. A runner already on and walk allowed junior shortstop Josh Smith a chance at the plate. After fouling a ball off of his knee, he hit a homerun that floated out of the park.

The offense carrying over from the weekend was a great sign for LSU, but senior right-hander Clay Moffitt didn’t need much support. After tonight, Moffitt has pitched through 13.1 innings without allowing a run. He carried a 0.00 ERA into his seventh appearance when in the fourth inning he allowed a homerun, or so it seemed.

The ball looked to be a homerun, but the umpires went to review.

“I was on to the next pitch, honestly,” Moffitt said.

After review, the ball bounced off the wall in play and was ruled a double. The perfect ERA and scoreless innings streak lived.

“When I came in the dugout,” Moffitt said with a smile across his face. “Coach was like ‘you still got it,’ and I was like ‘yeah, I still got it’.”

He finished the game without allowing a run and recorded one more out before retiring for the night.

Moffitt has been one of the healthy pitchers and pitched well, so he has earned playing time. He racked up five strikeouts -- almost matching his season total of seven -- in his second start of the season to drive his total to 12. He appeared in 11 games last season with only 12 total strikeouts.

Moffitt’s efficiency allowed him to go deep into the game. He threw 69 pitches — 45 for strikes. LSU coach Paul Mainieri needed a long performance from the senior because of the five-game week and somewhat depleted staff.

LSU is missing three freshmen pitchers who have all contributed this season — Jaden Hill, Landon Marceaux and Chase Costello.

Moffitt said it’s been a while since throwing 70 pitches in a game and having to extend makes him want to do better.

“High-pressure situations don’t really bother me, so like, I kind of like the pressure a little bit,” Moffitt said. “That’s what makes the game fun. If we didn’t get butterflies we wouldn’t play, you know.”

Moffitt exited the game after finishing the fifth inning and Mainieri turned the ball over to his freshmen right-handers Rye Gunter and Will Ripoll. Gunter walked the first batter on four-straight balls before retiring three straight to end the inning. He finished the sixth and seventh innings allowing one hit in the best of his three outings this season.

Ripoll started the eighth inning and finished the remaining two innings. He finished with 4 strikeouts and allowed 2 hits. Using three pitchers tonight puts LSU in a good spot for the makeup game against South Alabama Wednesday and the weekend series against No. 11 Texas A&M.

“(Moffitt) pounded the strike zone and gave us five shutout innings,” Mainieri said. “I think we’ll have enough arms now to get through tomorrow because those three guys did such a magnificent job tonight.”

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