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Tigers down Air Force, 10-2, in season opener

2/17/2012

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU took advantage of early Air Force mistakes for nine early runs Friday night, coasting to a 10-2 win against the Falcons in the Tigers' season opener.

The Tigers (1-0) did most of their damage in the game’s first two frames and then rode a strong season-opening performance from Kevin Gausman to the win.

Bertelson’s Blunders: Despite taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Falcons (0-2) buried themselves under a forgettable inning for starter Ben Bertelson.

In his first inning of the night, Bertelson (0-1) hit three separate LSU batters and walked another, giving up a run before the Tigers could even manage a hit. The hits started coming once the bases became loaded, however, as left fielder Jackson Slaid ripped a double to take a 3-0 lead.

Shortstop Austin Nola and catcher Ty Ross added an RBI each later in the inning to give the Tigers a 5-0 lead after one frame, which was all the cushion LSU would need.

Gausman strong to start: Gausman entered 2012 as the Tigers’ top option on the mound, and he delivered on that promise Friday night.

The sophomore got off to a shaky start in the first inning, when he allowed a low-flying solo homer to Falcons left fielder Garrett Custons. After his offense took the lead, though, Gausman (1-0) was money.

He pitched six innings on the night, allowing just four hits and the one earned run. He tossed seven strikeouts to go with just two walks. And although he allowed at least one hit in five of his six frames, Gausman frustrated the Falcons’ base runners, stranding five.

Quiet in the late going: The opening to the Tigers’ season was an offensive explosion, to be sure. LSU knocked 10 runs on eight hits in the first four innings of the game, with center fielder JaCoby Jones and Nola joining Slaid as multiple-RBI hitters.

It’s hard to tell if the Tigers were sitting on their lead, or if the bats began to fade, but the offense stopped after the fourth. LSU managed just two hits from the fifth inning to the team’s last at-bat in the eighth -- with both of those hits coming in the eighth.

It didn’t make much difference, however, as a new-look LSU bullpen shut down the Falcons’ offense, as well. The Tigers threw three different pitchers in the seventh, eighth and ninth. Returning junior Kevin Berry started things off with a scoreless seventh before stepping aside for newcomers Aaron Nola and Nick Goody.

Aaron Nola, Austin’s younger brother, allowed the Falcons’ other run on two hits, but offset that by tossing two strikeouts. Goody, a junior college transfer, got off to a sparkling start in the ninth inning by striking out the side to seal the win.