OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Paul Skenes struck out 12 and carried a shutout into the eighth inning before Tennessee broke through, and LSU held on to beat its SEC rival 6-3 in the College World Series on Saturday night.
The big right-hander’s fastball touched 100 mph or more 46 times as he ran his season strikeout total to 200, the first college pitcher to reach that mark in 12 years.
LSU will play Wake Forest on Monday night to determine control of Bracket 2. The Volunteers will meet Stanford in an elimination game Monday.
Brayden Jobert finished a single short of hitting for the cycle. He doubled in the fourth, tripled in a run in the sixth and homered in the eighth after Tennessee had made it a two-run game.
Gavin Dugas’ third homer in four games opened the scoring, and the Tigers were up 5-0 after seven innings.
The Vols made a game of it after Christian Scott doubled for Tennessee’s first extra-base hit with one out in the eighth. Maui Ahuna’s RBI single knocked Skenes out of the game, and Hunter Ensley homered on Gavin Guidry’s only pitch to cut it the lead to 5-3.
Riley Cooper struck out Christian Moore to end the eighth.
After an error and balk in the ninth, Cooper caught Scott’s soft liner to finish the game.
LSU won two of three against the Vols in Baton Rouge early in the season. Skenes was a 5-2 winner in the opener of that series, striking out 12 and allowing one run in seven innings.
This matchup commanded up to $500 for a prime seat on the secondary market at midweek, and Skenes was the main attraction through seven innings. Projected to be picked second overall behind teammate Dylan Crews in the amateur draft next month, Skenes recorded double-digit strikeouts for the 14th time in 18 starts.
If Skenes pitches again at the CWS, he will have a good chance to break the SEC single-season strikeout record of 202 by ex-LSU star Ben McDonald in 1989. As it is, Skenes has the most strikeouts since Trevor Bauer had 203 for UCLA in 2011.
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