The Green Wave (10-3) threatened in the first inning when Garrett Cannizaro was hit by a pitch and Jeremy Schaffer singled to put runners on the corners with just one out. A line drive by Nick Schneeberger was snagged by LSU second baseman JaCoby Jones, who doubled off Schaffer at first to get the Tigers out of trouble.
Tulane’s Alex Byo retired the first two batters of the second inning but surrendered three consecutive hits, the final a two-RBI single down the right field line from Tyler Ross, and LSU (11-2) grabbed an early 2-0 advantage. The Tigers added a run in the fourth inning when former Morgan City High School standout Grant Dozar singled to score Raph Rhymes from second base to give the Tigers a 3-0 edge in front of a crowd of 5,063, the third largest in stadium history.
The first inning was the only trouble that LSU starting pitcher Aaron Nola (2-0) would face in the contest. The freshman allowed just three base runners the rest of the way and struck out a career-best six. He didn’t allow a base runner to reach second base from the second through the eighth inning. He tossed eight complete innings and allowed three hits.
“Aaron Nola was simply phenomenal tonight,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “Just a tremendous performance by a true freshman pitching on the road in front of a big crowd. He demonstrated why he has a chance to be one of the best pitchers we’ve had here.”
Tulane coach Rick Jones was equally impressed.
“You have to tip your hat to (Aaron) Nola,” he said. “I don’t know that I’ve seen a better performance, especially from a freshman, in our ball park. That’s a very, very impressive outing. You don’t go through our ball club the way we’ve been swinging the bat, with three hits unless you’ve got great stuff and great command. He kept going right after us and going right after us.”
At one point, Nola threw 21 straight strikes.
“He was absolutely special,” Jones said. “That’s all you can say. Any pitcher who watched tonight would maybe understand a little more about how aggressive you need to be. He has fastballs on both sides of the plate and very good command of his slider.”
The fourth LSU run of the game came in the eighth when Rhymes connected on a two-out, RBI base hit and Chris Sciambraz added an RBI double in the ninth inning for the final LSU run.
“I was very pleased with the way we played in all aspects of the game tonight,” Mainieri said. “Obviously, we had great pitching and we also had very effective at-bats. If we can continue to play this way, we have a chance to do something special this season.”
Byo, in his third start of the season, tossed a career-best seven and two-third innings and allowed 10 hits and four runs. The junior (1-2) struck out one.
“I thought from Alex (Byo’s) standpoint, he had a gutsy effort when he (gave up the runs),” R. Jones said. “Of the seven hits he gave up early, five of them were balls up in the zone. He had a tough time getting it down early. That hurt him. When he started getting the ball down, he was able to minimize his pitches and get a lot of quick outs.”
Tulane was out-hit for the first time this season, although 10 of the Tigers’ 12 hits were singles. The Green Wave was shutout for the first time since April 3, 2011.
Tulane will hit the road for a three-game series at Wichita State (6-6) this weekend, starting on Friday at 3 p.m. The series will continue with a 2 p.m. game on Saturday and will conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Tigers play host to Michigan at 7 p.m. Friday in Alex Box Stadium.