BATON ROUGE, La. – In the final game of its Southeastern Conference baseball series at Alex Box Stadium, No. 11 Mississippi State dropped an 11-8 contest against No. 7 LSU on Sunday.
However, the Bulldogs kept battling until the end and did not go down without a fight. A handful of rallies fell short in the end as MSU dropped the series finale.
“We didn’t make enough plays defensively to win the game,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We were great in the field Friday and Saturday. In this game, we just had a couple of plays that we didn’t make. Our kids battled and competed hard. I thought we had some great offensive at-bats the entire weekend.
“We had great at-bats in this game as well. We certainly gave ourselves a chance. A couple of different innings we were base hit away from being tied.”
MSU did win its first series from LSU since the 2006 season. Behind a grand slam from Nathaniel Lowe, the Bulldogs won the opener 12-8 Friday night. Austin Sexton then pitched a masterpiece Saturday night as State clinched the series, 2-1.
The Bulldogs have now won five of their first six conference series this season. However, MSU slipped to 0-4 Sunday when playing with a 2-0 lead in a weekend series.
MSU fell to 27-13-1 overall and 10-8 in league play, while LSU moved to 27-13 and 10-8. MSU, LSU and Ole Miss are in a three-way tie for second place in the Western Division standings – two games behind Texas A&M.
The Bulldogs actually out-hit the Tigers 15-12 on Sunday. The Bulldogs have now had 15 or more hits nine times this season.
Jake Mangum had three hits and two RBIs for the Bulldogs, while extending his hitting streak to eight-straight games, tying a career high. Brent Rooker, Lowe, Gavin Collins, Ryan Gridley and Hunter Stovall each added multiple hits. Reid Humphreys had three RBIs.
The Bulldogs took the first lead for a third straight game by scoring three times in the third inning. Rooker had an RBI-double, while Humphreys had a sacrifice fly and Lowe had an RBI-double.
LSU then grabbed its first lead of the series by scoring four times in the fourth inning. An MSU error tied the game and Cole Freeman gave the Tigers the lead with an RBI-single.
MSU starter Konnor Pilkington (1-1) was lifted with one out during the fourth inning. Eight Bulldog hurlers would follow. The longest relief stint belonged to Keegan James, who threw two innings.
“We got a lot of guys some work who needed work,” Cohen said. “We wanted that one relief pitcher to give us three or four innings and it just didn’t happen. Konnor had a nice start. He threw a lot of strikes in the zone and that helped us get off to a good start offensively.”
LSU again scored four times in the fifth inning for an 8-3 lead.
In the sixth inning, the Bulldogs closed within 8-5 on an RBI-double by Stovall and RBI-single by Mangum.
The Bulldogs then had one more threat in the eighth inning. Down 11-5, the Maroon and White plated three scores. Mangum had an RBI-single, while Humphreys drove in a pair with a base hit. The Bulldogs left the bases loaded in that at-bat.
Jake Fraley finished with three hits for LSU, while Kramer Robertson had two hits and three RBIs, including his first home run of the year. Beau Jordan and Jordan Romero each had two hits, while Bryce Jordan also homered.
Russell Reynolds (1-0) was the winning pitcher in relief.
MSU will face Ole Miss in its next contest. The Bulldogs and Rebels will play their annual Governor’s Cup matchup at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The game will be televised nationally on the SEC Network.
(From MSU Media Relations)