• The buzz: The Bulldogs chipped away at a 5-0 deficit, got stellar long relief from former starter Devin Jones, and got the best of LSU closer Matty Ott in the ninth for a huge win that not only evened the series but significantly increased MSU's chances of qualifying for the SEC Tournament. MSU (34-20, 14-15 SEC) hasn't been to Hoover since 2007. More on that in a moment. Oh, and Jaron Shepherd was huge in the field and at the plate.
• Big inning: LSU (35-20, 12-17) led 5-4 going into the ninth, with Ott having entered to start the eighth. Jonathan Ogden got it going with a one-out single, and then C.T. Bradford walked. Cody Freeman singled home pinch-runner Sam Frost, and both Freeman and Bradford moved up a bag on Mikie Mahtook's fielding error on that play. Jarrod Parks was granted an intentional pass to set the stage for Shepherd. The senior hit a grounder to second baseman JaCoby Jones, who booted it to allow Bradford to score the game winner. It was ruled a hit for Shepherd.
• Key stats: After starting the game 1 of 6 with runners in scoring position, MSU went 4 of 5 in such situations the rest of the way. MSU pitchers struck out 10 LSU hitters and walked five. Four LSU base runners were thrown out on the base paths in non-forceout fashion: Two at home, one in a rundown between first and second, and another at third base.
• MSU at the plate: State had 12 hits. Shepherd had two: The winning single and a two-out solo home run in the third to make it a 5-1 game. MSU added another run in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the seventh. Big hits included Adam Frazier's RBI single in the fifth and Jarrod Parks' RBI single in the seventh to make it 5-4.
• LSU at the plate: The Tigers had 11 hits, with Mahtook singling each of his first two times up. Jones shut him down, though. LSU took a 5-0 lead with four runs in the third, which was highlighted by Austin Nola's two-run double.
• MSU on the mound: Starter Nick Routt didn't have it tonight, giving up five runs (all earned) on five hits in 2 2/3 innings. Chad Girodo got a couple of outs before giving way to Jones, who tossed 5 1/3 innings, the longest SEC outing of the year for the former Friday night starter. He scattered five hits and struck out five, including two whiffs of the mighty Mahtook. The way he pitched, Jones sure deserved the win, but Taylor Stark (3-0) got the last out of the ninth to become the pitcher of record.
• LSU on the mound: Starter Kurt McCune, a freshman, gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits in 5 innings. Kevin Berry allowed one run on three hits in 2 innings, and then Ott (1-3) was charged with two runs (one earned) on three hits in 1 1/3 innings.
• Bottom line: So, MSU can guarantee a trip to Hoover by winning Saturday's rubber match. However, a loss won't necessarily knock the Bulldogs out. The series to watch is in Fayetteville, where Arkansas and Ole Miss, both 13-15, will play a doubleheader after today's game was rained out. MSU could still get in with a loss. How does it get knocked out? Lose Saturday, have Arkansas and Ole Miss split their doubleheader, and South Carolina wins the East. In that three-way tie, MSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss are all 3-3 against each other, and the Bulldogs would have the inferior record (1-2) against SC. Got it? Good.
As for LSU, it has been eliminated from the SEC Tournament. Only the second time since 1985 that the Tigers have missed it.
• Quotable: "I felt like our players were trying to get everything going for us, and they did. They really believe." – MSU coach John Cohen
• Up next: Game 3 is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, and Cohen said struggling sophomore Chris Stratton (5-6, 5.17) will start on the mound. Cohen's already said it'll be an all-hands-on-deck situation for Saturday, so don't be surprised if he empties the bullpen. Good news is, Caleb Reed has yet to pitch this weekend.
Also, MSU can equal its combined SEC win total from the past two years with a win tomorrow. State won nine league games in 2009, six last year.