HOOVER, Ala., – Top-seeded Mississippi State saw its 12-game winning streak come to a screeching halt in the early morning hours on Friday.
The Bulldogs were buzzed 6-2 by an LSU squad that has won 14 of its last 15 in its own right, including three straight to advance at the SEC Tournament.
“We’ve been playing awfully well for a while and this is a game we didn’t play well and weren’t locked in like we should have,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “We didn’t pay attention the way we should have. But I don’t want to take anything away from LSU because I thought they did a great job.”
The Diamond Dogs committed three errors which led to two unearned runs as No. 5 seed LSU improved to 42-17 overall and received a Friday bye by remaining in the winner’s bracket. State will take on fourth-seeded Florida in an elimination game 30 minutes following the conclusion of Vanderbilt-Texas A&M on SEC Network.
The Tigers collected a dozen hits including nine off Mississippi State ace Dakota Hudson through five innings. Hudson (9-4) struck out six and walked one before Vance Tatum, Daniel Brown and Jacob Billingsley finished things out in relief.
“(Hudson) got underneath their bats and they hit ground balls,” Cohen said. “We just weren’t standing where they hit the ground balls. Three balls out of 27 at bats (against Hudson) hit the outfield grass in the air. We wanted them to hit the ball on the ground and to their credit they hit balls in the hole.”
LSU’s Jared Poche’ picked up the win to improve to 7-4. Poche’ gave up one earned run on seven hits and a pair of walks while striking out three in 6 2/3 innings. Parker Bugg came on for the final seven outs to close out his fourth save.
The Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead before MSU was able to scratch across two runs in the top of the seventh on an RBI triple by Jacob Robson and a run-scoring ground out by Ryan Gridley. But LSU took advantage of an error and a hit by pitch to get runners on for a two out, two-run single by Michael Papierski in the bottom half of the frame.
The Diamond Dogs (41-15-1) had eight hits led by the bottom third of the order which accounted for five. Gridley and Hunter Stovall were both 2-for-4 and Robson’s triple was the only extra base hit for either team.
“The middle part of our order didn’t get good swings off,” Cohen said. “We had opportunities to get good swings off but I think Poche’ just wanted it a little bit more than the middle of our lineup. But tomorrow is a new day and I’m hoping our preparation allows us to be more locked in.”
State will start junior right-hander Austin Sexton (7-2, 3.39 ERA) on the mound while the Gators go with junior righty Logan Shore (10-0, 2.33).