LSU ace Nola blanks Bulldogs in opener

Published 1:00 am Saturday, April 5, 2014

LSU’s ace shut down, and shut out, Mississippi State on Friday night.

Aaron Nola took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and gave up just two singles and a pair of walks to lead LSU to a 3-0 win in the opener of a three-game series in Baton Rouge.

Nola struck out 10 batters over eight innings before giving way to closer Joe Broussard, who pitched a perfect ninth inning for his sixth save of the season.

It was the fifth shutout Nola (6-1) has been a part of this season. LSU (22-8-1, 4-5-1 SEC) has 10 shutouts, which ties the school record set by the 1996 team.

“Aaron Nola continues to raise his level of excellence with each outing,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I’m running out of words to describe how great this young man is. He is without a doubt the best pitcher in the country, and it’s truly a privilege to coach him.

LSU got on the board with two runs in the third inning. Sean McMullen and Mark Laird delivered back-to-back triples, then Laird scored on Alex Bregman’s single through the left side.

In the fourth inning, McMullen hit a sac fly to put the Tigers up 3-0.

“I’m glad we were able to get (Nola) some run support early and take some of the pressure off of him,” Mainieri said. “We swung the bat pretty well and generated some offense early to take the lead. I thought overall we played a very good ball game, and I was very pleased with the way our players competed.”

Mississippi State starter Trevor Fitts allowed two runs on four hits in just two innings. Ben Bracewell gave up the third run, then Brandon Woodruff threw 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

The Bulldogs (20-11, 6-4), though, couldn’t do enough against Nola. Their only hits were a leadoff single by Alex Detz in the sixth inning, and another single by Jake Vickerson in the eighth.