Baseball Defeats Auburn 6-2; Evens Series
AUBURN, Ala. – LSU freshman right-hander Ma’Khail Hilliard limited Auburn to two runs in 7.1 innings Friday night, and the Tigers staged a four-run sixth inning against AU ace pitcher Casey Mize to post a 6-2 win at Plainsman Park.
LSU improved to 33-22 overall and 15-14 in the SEC, while Auburn dropped to 36-19 overall and 14-15 in conference play.
The series concludes with Game 3 at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday in a contest that may be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. Saturday’s game may be viewed on SEC Network +, accessible at WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.
Hilliard (9-4) allowed just two runs in 7.1 innings, limiting Auburn to seven hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 97 pitches in the outing and lowered his ERA to 3.53.
“Ma’Khail was brilliant tonight in a game that was crucial for us,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He had a rough outing last week (against Alabama), and he came into my office after the game and promised me it would never happen again. He delivered a huge performance tonight when we needed it most against the best pitcher in the nation.
“Mize was virtually unhittable with a devastating cut fastball, so our hope was that as he got tired deeper into the game he would elevate his pitches. We started to get some good swings against him and came up with several clutch hits in that sixth inning.”
Mize (9-4), the projected No. 1 pick in next month’s MLB Draft, was charged with the loss as he surrendered four runs on seven hits in six innings with two walks and nine strikeouts.
LSU reliever Todd Peterson earned his fourth save of the season, retiring all five Auburn batters he faced over the final 1.2 innings.
LSU centerfielder Zach Watson paced the Tigers’ 11-hit output by going 3-for-5 at the plate with one double, one RBI and two runs scored.
Auburn broke a scoreless tie in the fifth when first baseman Josh Anthony chopped a two-run single to score leftfielder Conor Davis and second baseman Luke Jarvis.
LSU erupted for four runs on five hits in the sixth inning against Mize to seize a 4-2 lead. Watson ignited the outburst with a one-out double and scored the Tigers’ first run of the game on a single by rightfielder Antoine Duplantis.
Peterson replaced Hilliard on the mound with Auburn runners at first and second and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Peterson retired designated hitter Edouard Julien on a fly ball and struck out third baseman Brendan Venter to end the threat.
After a one-hour weather delay, LSU scored two runs against Auburn reliever Calvin Coker in the top of the ninth inning on RBI singles by Watson and Duplantis.
Peterson retired the side in order in the ninth to preserve the victory for Hilliard and the Tigers.