- David Helman, Reporter, RecruitingNation
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Some quick thoughts from LSU's 6-5 series-opening win against Georgia on Friday night.
Overview: Despite a so-so record this season, Georgia (24-19, 8-11) gave the Tigers all they could handle through all nine innings. Every time LSU (34-9, 13-6) made an offensive push, the Bulldogs were there to answer. Georgia followed a JaCoby Jones solo home run in the first inning with one run of its own in the top of the second. When the Tigers retook the lead, 3-1, after a RBI single and a RBI fielder's choice, Georgia responded with a five-hit, two-run third to tie the score.
LSU blinked first when a wild pitch by starting pitcher Kevin Gausman and a throwing error by Tyler Hanover allowed the Bulldogs to take a 5-4 lead. With the advantage in hand, Georgia starter Alex Wood looked poised to seal the deal. Wood befuddled the Tiger hitters between the fifth and seventh innings.
Turning point: It fell apart for the Bulldogs immediately after Wood ceded the mound to Bryan Benzor (4-4) to open the bottom of the eighth inning. Benzor allowed a base hit to the first batter he faced, SEC batting leader Raph Rhymes.That brought Austin Nola to the plate with the go-ahead run on first, and Nola took full advantage. Holding a 2-0 count, the senior smashed a two-run homer over the wall in left field to give LSU the lead.
Nick Goody got the save for LSU -- his eighth of the year. He allowed a base hit to Curt Powell to open the frame, and Powell promptly stole second. But Goody recovered to force a groundout and two fly outs to secure the win. The junior reliever got the last two outs with Powell sitting just 90 feet from home.
Key player: Nola's homer was his only hit of the night in a 1-of-4 performance. But any time a a senior grabs a late-game lead in a conference game with a two-run blast, he has to get the nod.
Key stat: The win gives LSU a 9-3 mark in one-run games in the SEC this season.
Miscellaneous: Ole Miss and Arkansas each lost their series openers on Friday night, boosting LSU's lead in the SEC West to four games. SEC East juggernauts Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina all won, however, which keeps things tight in the overall conference standings. The Tigers trail Kentucky by just one game, and lead the Gators and Gamecocks by the same, slim margin.
8dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough