BATON ROUGE, La. - LSU exploded for six runs in the fourth inning Sunday to defeat Air Force, 10-3, in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU was perfect on the weekend, moving to 3-0 with the win, while the loss dropped Air Force to 2-2.
The Tigers will return to action Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m., when they face New Orleans at Maestri Field in New Orleans. The game will be televised on Cox Sports Television, and it may viewed in non-CST markets via the WatchESPN app.
The LSU-UNO game will be broadcast on 100.7 FM in Baton Rouge, and it also may be heard at LSUsports.net and the LSU Sports mobile app.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said he was pleased by the effort of the second-ranked Tigers during the team's opening weekend.
"I was proud of the way our players kept their attention to detail and focus throughout the weekend," Mainieri said. "You never want to say you played a perfect game, because there are always things that can be improved upon, but I thought our team performed very well in all three games. We had phenomenal starting pitching, we played great defense, and we swung the bats well, so how can we not be pleased with the whole weekend? This was a super way to start the season."
Freshman right-hander Eric Walker (1-0) was impressive in his collegiate debut on Sunday, striking out six and surrendering only one earned run on two hits in five innings pitched. Walker did not allow a base runner until the fourth inning.
"You could see Eric's poise and composure out there on the mound," Mainieri said, "and he's going to throw an awful lot of strikes. "I think he could have had a little bit better command of his secondary pitches today, but that's to be expected; I'm sure he was amped up for his first college start."
Senior Jacob DeVries (0-1) suffered the loss for Air Force. He pitched four innings with six earned runs allowed on six hits, three strikeouts and two walks.
Air Force struck first in the top of the fourth inning, with sophomore Nic Ready scoring the first run of the game on a throwing error. Junior Tyler Zabojnik gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead with an RBI single into center field.
Senior Greg Deichmann got the offense started in the fourth with a two-run home run over the right field fence to tie the game. Freshman Josh Smith followed that up with a three-run blast in the same inning, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game. Senior Cole Freeman capped off the inning by scoring all the way from second base on a wild pitch, extending the Tigers' lead to 6-2.
"Josh Smith is a really good baseball player, it seems that the game almost comes too easy to him sometimes," Mainieri said. "He has tremendous skills, and he's learning about the nuances of the game. He's going to continue to mature at the collegiate level and raise his game even higher."
Air Force senior Tyler Jones cut the lead to three after hitting a solo shot off the left field foul pole in the top of the sixth against LSU reliever Zack Hess.
Freeman tacked on a run for the Tigers with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, and freshman Jake Slaughter did the same the following inning. In the bottom of the eighth, a two-run double from senior Kramer Robertson capped off the Tigers' offensive output.
The Tiger bullpen pitched well to hold the lead, combining for six strikeouts and allowing just two runs on two hits in four innings.
A scary moment occurred in the top of the fifth inning when home plate umpire Ray Miller was struck in the head with a bat. Miller walked off the field under his own power and immediately received medical attention. He watched the remainder of the game after receiving four stitches and is in good condition.