- Gary Laney, Reporter, GeauxTigerNation
Austin Nola's two-run, two-out double in the fifth inning gave No. 4 LSU the winning runs as the Tigers won their eighth straight game, beating No. 3 Kentucky, 5-4 Friday at Kentucky.
With the win, LSU (32-7) takes sole possession of first place in the SEC at 12-4. LSU continues to lead the Western Division while Kentucky (33-6, 11-5) leads the East. Many also look at the series as a 1 vs. 2 matchup because LSU and Kentucky are ranked 1 and 2, respectively, in the Collegiate Baseball poll.
Close the Door: LSU ace Kevin Gausman (7-1) didn't have his sharpest outing, getting touched for 10 hits and four earned runs in seven innings, while striking out 11.
But LSU's bullpen delivered again as Chris Cotton and Nick Goody fired perfect eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to finish it off. Goody struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn his sixth save.
A solid bullpen has been a key for LSU in SEC play. Friday's game was the 10th one-run game in conference play for LSU, which is 8-2 in those games.
Timely Big Hits: Both teams had 10 hits, but LSU did a little more with them. Tyler Moore hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, his second of the season and the only one of the night for either team, off Kentucky starter Taylor Rogers (4-2), who gave up five runs, but only three earned, in six innings. Nola, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, delivered two 2-out, run-scoring hits, a first-inning single and the two-run double in the fifth that, at the time, gave LSU a 5-3 lead.
Whoops: LSU scored two runs, both unearned, in the first inning as both errors allowed Arby Fields to gain extra bases and eventually score. The second error also put a runner in scoring position that allowed Nola's two-out single to plate a run. LSU committed an error, but it did not hurt.
Rhymes Watch: LSU's Raph Rhymes went 2-for-4, raising his average to an incredible .485 (64-for-132). Both of his hits were singles, giving him 55 singles out of his 64 hits on the season. Fields and Tyler Hanover also had two hits each for the Tigers.
Next: Saturday's game will be a 1 p.m. start with LSU right-hander Ryan Eades (5-1, 2.51 ERA) taking on Wildcats left-hander Jerard Grundy (3-1, 4.60).
2dJeremy Crabtree and Brandon Chatmon