Walker, LSU Show Total DominationColumns
BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU almost finished its weekend series against Auburn in near perfect fashion.
As the afternoon went by at Alex Box Stadium, there didn’t seem to be a buzz through the first five or six innings against Auburn. Perhaps it was the early start time, or maybe LSU fans just felt like the game was well in hand with the offense jumping on AU sophomore righthander Casey Mize. But while the crowd was a little subdued through the middle frames, one glance at the scoreboard showcased the gravity of the situation at hand — righthander Eric Walker was on the verge of making history.
Walker carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and began the frame with an out on a liner to left before sitting down Auburn’s Mike Rojas on a 78 mph changeup low in the zone. With the LSU fans making some serious noise and Walker just four outs away from a no-hitter, Sam Gillikin, who had just one home run in his AU career, came to the plate. First pitch. Ball. The second pitch? Gillikin smacked a fly ball to left field — against the wind — and somehow, after Auburn hadn’t had Mother Nature on its side the entire weekend, the ball went over the fence. No more no-hitter.
While Walker would’ve loved to put himself into the LSU history books, his stellar performance in a dominant 9-1 win over Auburn culminated what was a mighty impressive showing by Paul Mainieri’s Tigers in a series sweep that has LSU fans talking about a top eight national seed.
“We had to beat Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize, two of the best pitchers in our conference. Our guys showed what they’re made of. We’re LSU and we have a lot of pride in what we do in baseball. Our guys want to keep the legacy going for our program while also making a legacy for themselves. It doesn’t get any easier, but this time of year kind of separates the men from the boys. You can’t be afraid this time of year. You just have to embrace it, and I think our guys are primed for it.
“I thought the UK start kind of knocked him [Eric Walker] out of whack. It was a difficult environment with the small park a good team and there’s no hiding the fact that the key for Eric is that he’s a strike-thrower who changes speeds, so the wind blowing in [like today] certainly helps his cause,” he continued. “I thought he was in complete control out there and we played good defense behind him as well.”
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