Hale knocks his first homer in No. 2 LSU victory against No. 8 Houston
HOUSTON -- Sophomore left-hander Jared Poche' fired a season-high 7.2 innings Friday night to lead second-ranked LSU past No. 8 Houston, 4-2, at Minute Maid Park on the first day of the Houston College Classic.
Poche’ (4-0) limited the Cougars to two runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
LSU improved to 13-1 with its 10th consecutive victory and will meet Baylor (6-6 ) on Saturday in Minute Maid Park. Houston dropped to 8-6 with Friday’s loss.
“Poche’ never makes it look easy, but he certainly gets the job done,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri after Friday’s win. “He always demonstrates tremendous poise and battles the hitters with every pitch. He gave us the tenacious, competitive effort we needed against a very good Houston ball club.
“The atmosphere was great here tonight, and we were thrilled with the opportunity to play in front of a large, loud crowd in a Major League ball park. We’re certainly looking forward to the remainder of the weekend.”
Houston starter Andrew Lantrip (3-1) suffered the first loss of his collegiate career, as he allowed four runs -- three earned -- on nine hits with no walks and two strikeouts in eight innings of work. Lantrip had a 9-0 career mark entering Friday’s game.
The Tigers grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning as shortstop Alex Bregman doubled with two out and scored on a single by designated hitter Chris Chinea. Third baseman Conner Hale then launched his first homer of the season to give LSU a three-run advantage. The dinger was the first allowed by Lantrip this season.
Houston scratched across a run against Poche’ in the top of the third, but the Tigers increased the lead to 4-1 in the fourth when Hale led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by centerfielder Andrew Stevenson and scored when shortstop Connor Wong made an errant throw after fielding a grounder by catcher Kade Scivicque.
The Cougars narrowed the gap to 4-2 in the sixth on designated hitter Jacob Campbell’s solo homer, his first dinger of the year and the second allowed this season by Poche’.
Right-hander Alden Cartwright relieved Poche’ with two out and nobody on in the top of the eighth, and he ended the inning by striking out Campbell on a 3-2 breaking ball.
Right-hander Jesse Stallings earned his sixth save in six opportunities by pitching a perfect ninth inning. Stallings struck out first baseman Chris Iriart before retiring Wong on a grounder back to the mound and ending the game on a flyout to center by pinch hitter Michael Wisz.