With the stage set for Arkansas and LSU to meet up on Thursday afternoon, that also meant that the stage was set for a pitching duel between two of the SEC and the country’s finest arms in Arkansas’s Ryne Stanek and LSU’s Aaron Nola.
“The stage was set for a really good game tonight. I don’t think anyone was disappointed in the pitcher’s duel. I thought Aaron pitched his heart out. You have to tip your hat to Stanek. He’s really good. He’s about ready for the big leagues. He was throwing a lot of off speed pitches when he was behind in counts. That really surprised us. We thought he would challenge us a little bit more. He was the story of the game,” said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri.
Stanek earned the win as he pitched 8.0 innings for the Razorbacks allowing six hits and one run (unearned), while walking three and striking out four.
“They have power arms. We knew that they did. We knew it would be this kind of game. We just didn’t take advantage of the scoring opportunities we had” said Mainieri.
The final line on Nola was 7.0 innings pitched, six hits and one earned run with one walk and eight strikeouts.
“I thought the starting pitchers did a tremendous job; they’re both outstanding in their records and their ERAs show that. It’s not something that happened every now and then with those guys, it happens every time they are on the mound. We felt like it was going to be a tight game and it was. I’m proud of our guys battling at the plate against (Aaron) Nola. It was a good team; we got to use a back-up catcher and it was a good team win for us,” commented Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn.
When asked of his performance, Stanek’s reply was simple:
“My job is to go out there and throw up zeros. It doesn’t really matter who it is against. It feels good because they have a really good team. I’m out there just doing what I can to try and keep us in the ballgame and get us a win.”
A Late Spark
Through the seven innings in which both of the starter’s were in, the game remained tied at 1-1. As the eighth and ninth innings rolled around, Arkansas was able to capitalize offensively, putting up three runs on LSU’s middle relievers to outscore the Tigers who failed to put up any additional runs.
LSU will play Alabama on Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. in an elimination game. The Tigers defeated Alabama earlier in the tournament 3-0. Arkansas now has an off day on Friday and will play the winner of the LSU/Alabama game on Saturday at noon.