BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana State blew open a 4-1 game in the sixth with an eight-run explosion as the 13th-ranked Tigers defeated Dartmouth in a college baseball game on Saturday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, 16-3. Ty Ross provided the big blows for LSU (9-2) with a three-run double in the fourth and a two-run single in the fateful sixth. Freshman Matt Robinson had two singles and scored two of the three Big Green runs as Dartmouth fell to 0-2 to start the 2012 season.
Dartmouth sophomore southpaw Mitch Horacek put zeroes on the board in each of the first three innings, escaping a first-and-third jam with one out in the second, before the Tigers roughed him up for four runs in the fourth. Mason Katz, who struck out in his first at-bat to end his streak of reaching base at 17 straight plate appearances (one shy of the national record), lined a shot just over the fence in left with one out for his third homer of the season and second in two days.
LSU wasn’t finished, however, as Raph Rhymes followed with a double before Austin Nola drew a walk. Horacek got the second out on a foul pop to first, then ran into some bad luck when Jackson Slaid reached on a nubber up the third-base line that simply refused to roll foul. Ty Ross then lined the first pitch he saw into the right-field corner, clearing the bases and giving the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Dartmouth bats were mostly silenced by LSU right-hander Ryan Eades. Junior Chris O’Dowd got the first Big Green hit in the fourth with a two-out triple into the right-field corner but was left stranded. Then in the fifth, Dartmouth put runners on the corners with one out on an error and a single by freshman Matt Robinson, but Eades wriggled his way out of it with a strikeout and a grounder to second.
The Green finally touched Eades for a run in his sixth and final inning on the mound. Senior Joe Sclafani led off with a single but was forced at second on a grounder to second off the bat of freshman Thomas Roulis. O’Dowd rapped a pitch back through the box to put runners on first and second, but junior Ennis Coble hit a soft liner to short that nearly got Roulis doubled off second. Thanks to that heads-up base running, sophomore Jeff Keller came to the plate and delivered a clean single to center to send Roulis around to score.
The game got away from Dartmouth in the bottom half as the first three runners reached against Horacek, loading the bases for Ross once again. The catcher came through for the Tigers with a liner to right that scored two runs and made it a 6-1 game. Chris Sciambra then laid down a squeeze bunt that got past Horacek, ending the left-hander’s afternoon.
In the from the bullpen trotted sophomore Mike Dodakian, who retired the first two batters to bring the Big Green on the verge of escaping the frame without further damage. But Katz ripped a 3-0 offering into the left-field corner for a two-run double, Austin Nola hit an RBI single and Tyler Hanover grounded a ball just inside the third-base bag for a two-run double. Suddenly, LSU owned a commanding 12-1 lead.
Dartmouth threatened to put a crooked number on the board in the seventh against reliever Nick Rumbelow, who walked Robinson and sophomore Chad Piersma to open the inning. Senior Jake Carlson stroked a single to center to load the bases for the top of the order, but Rumbelow limited the damage to just one run on an RBI grounder off the bat of Roulis.
LSU tacked an unearned run on in the seventh against freshman lefty Adam Frank before scoring three more in the eighth after two were out. Roulis scored the third and final Big Green run in the ninth with another grounder to score Robinson, who had led off with a single and gone to second on freshman Matt MacDowell’s single in his first collegiate at-bat.
Eades improved to 2-1 on the season, surrendering just one run on five hits while fanning five over his six innings.
Horacek (0-1) pitched better than his final line, yielding nine runs, seven earned, on eight hits and two walks in five-plus innings with four strikeouts.
Nola led the Tiger offense, banging out three hits with two doubles and scoring three runs while driving in another. Ross finished the day 2-for-3 with a career-high five RBIs, and Katz was 2-for-4 with his homer, two runs and three RBIs.
Robinson was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs, Roulis drove in two and O’Dowd went 2-for-5 with a triple.
Dartmouth will attempt to salvage the final game of the three-game series at LSU on Sunday morning with first pitch at 11 a.m. (CST).