Special to the Journal
BATON ROUGE, La. – Here’s the weekend summed up for Mississippi State: The Bulldogs nearly doubled their hit total from the first two games against LSU and quadrupled their scoring output on Sunday.
And lost. Badly.
The Tigers finished off a sweep with a 17-4 rout, sending State back home reeling after not only losing its first SEC series of the season, but also after getting swept for the first time since April 26-28 of last year at Vanderbilt.
After entering the weekend tied for the West Division lead, now the Bulldogs (20-13, 6-6 SEC) are tied for fourth place, half a game behind LSU (24-8-1, 6-5-1).
State lost the first two games 3-0 and 2-1.
“Things are bunched in our league and it is going to be a wild race to the end,” Bulldogs’ coach John Cohen said. “Quite simply, things did not happen for us this weekend. We had some hard-hit balls. We couldn’t turn those into runs. On the mound (Sunday), we couldn’t contain them. That has not happened very often this season.”
Plenty happened for the Tigers after they scratched and clawed for two days.
LSU got to State freshman Dakota Hudson and closer Jonathan Holder – who came on with two outs in the third inning – for seven runs in the first three innings, collecting six hits in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Five of that early flurry of runs came with two outs, the last three on ringing hits against the normally impossible-to-touch Holder. Nine-hole hitter Andrew Stevenson produced a run with a single on a 1-and-2 offering and Sean McMullen chased in the other two when he hammered a ball over Jake Vickerson’s head in left field.
“The key at-bats of the game were Stevenson and McMullen against Holder,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “To get those two big hits off him kind of broke the game open for us.
“I thought we did some really good offensive things against some really good pitchers, and (Sunday) we took advantage of the opportunities we had. It was nice to put some crooked numbers up there for a change.”
There were a lot of those.
LSU scored two or more runs in five innings, finished with its most runs in a league game since an 18-6 win against Florida last May and its largest margin of victory since routing the Bulldogs 17-1 in 2011.
It was the Tigers’ first sweep over the Bulldogs since 2008.
State averted the shutout when Gavin Collins cranked one of his two doubles to left-center field to score Jake Vickerson, who was 3-for-4. An inning later, the Bulldogs got another run on C.T. Bradford’s pinch-hit single and had the bases loaded.
But Tigers’ reliever Parker Bugg escaped the inning when he got Collins to roll into a fielder’s choice.
That was as much drama as there was. After that, LSU bumped the lead with a three-run fifth and then blasted it open with six runs in the sixth, capped by Kade Scivicque’s grand slam.
The Bulldogs are back in action Tuesday when they travel to Pearl to take on Southern Miss at 6:35 p.m. at Trustmark Park before Ole Miss visits Starkville next weekend.