No. 1 vs. No. 2 proved worthy of the buildup Friday.
LSU, ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball, edged No. 2 Kentucky 5-4 before a Cliff Hagan Stadium crowd of 3,785.
That's 785 over listed capacity of 3,000, although seating for an additional 200 was added for the three-game series.
LSU (32-7, 12-4 Southeastern Conference) scored all its runs with two outs and got 15 strikeouts from the trio of Kevin Gausman, Chris Cotton and Nick Goody.
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"I thought it was a great baseball game. I can see why Kentucky has won as many games as they have," LSU Coach Paul Mainieri said. "They have a very pesky, scrappy lineup. They got a lot of hits off Gausman, but Gausman raised his game when he needed to in some clutch situations. He got some real big strikeouts to get himself out of some jams."
Gausman (7-1) struck out 11 over seven innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits and a walk as the Tigers won their eighth game in a row.
Arby Fields, Raph Rhymes, Austin Nola and Tyler Hanover each had two of LSU's 10 hits.
UK (33-6, 11-5), also got 10 hits, including seven from 5-6-7 hitters Cameron Flynn, Zac Zellers and J.T. Riddle.
"We came through big a couple times," said Zellers, who led the way with three hits. "I know we left a lot of runners (six) on base tonight. You can't win when you leave a bunch of guys stranded."
The top three batters in the UK lineup combined to strike out nine times, topped by leadoff man Austin Cousino's 5-for-5 futility.
"You're going to have to give some credit to the pitching. That guy's good," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "Clearly when you punch out that many times it makes it really tough. But not impossible. We got 10 hits, we hit the ball on the nose a bunch. But we needed to make them play defense more than we did."
UK dug a two-run hole in the first inning.
With two out and Fields on first base, lefty Taylor Rogers (4-2) made a pickoff throw that had Fields in no man's land.
The runner broke for second, and first baseman A.J. Reed's throw to the bag was off the mark for an error.
Rhymes then grounded to the hole between first and second. Second baseman A.J. Riddle made a tough pickup, but threw wildly to score a run. Nola added an RBI single.
"I thought the moment was a little big for us. One of the few times this year," Henderson said. "We're jacked. The kids were ready to play. They were a little over-pumped. If we play catch, it's a completely different inning."
Zellers reached on a second-inning single and scored from second on Michael Williams' high-hop bouncer to first.
"I was off on the pitch and I didn't really know where the ball went," Zeller said. "I looked up and saw Coach (Brad) Bohannon, and he was waving me home, so I just put my head down and went in to score."
Gausman came back in the third to strike out the Cats on nine pitches.
LSU's Tyler Moore lined a fourth-inning homer to right.
The Wildcats pulled even in the bottom of the inning.
Back-to-back doubles by Luke Maile and Flynn scored one. Zellers singled to tie.
Riddle bunted for a single, and Williams bunted the runners to second and third. But Gausman fanned Matt Reida and Cousino.
In the fifth, Cousino's leaping effort at the center-field wall denied Fields of a homer, but the ball hit off his glove for a double. After a walk, Nola ripped a two-run double.
UK made it a one-run game in the sixth, getting singles from Flynn, Zellers and Williams. The Cats had runners on second and third, with one out, but Gausman whiffed Reida and Cousino.
From there, Gausman, Cotton and Goody added a scoreless inning each, countered by two-hit ball by UK frosh Chandler Shepherd.