The buzz: My, this was a discouraging start for the Bulldogs, who fell to 33-20 overall and 13-15 in the SEC. LSU (35-19, 12-16) went all Kathy Bates, and MSU was James Caan, lying helplessly in a bed as the hammer kept coming down. Sorry for the vivid imagery, but this was a pure beatdown, I’m afraid. The good news is that MSU is still very much alive for an SEC Tournament berth; more on that in a moment.

Big inning: Well, the inning that gave LSU separation was the four-run fifth, which was highlighted by Mikie Mahtook‘s two-run homer and gave the visitors a 7-1 edge. But as for BIG, try the 10-run sixth. The Tigers sent 14 batters to the plate and did their damage with six hits.

Key stats: I stopped keeping score at 14-1, and by that point LSU was 6 of 12 with runners in scoring position. MSU pitchers issued eight walks. State had just five hits.

MSU at the plate: No Bulldogs had multiple hits or extra-base hits. The lone RBI came on Brent Brownlee‘s safety squeeze bunt in the second innning to tie it at 1-1.

LSU at the plate: The Tigers had 14 hits, and nine of them went for extra bases – seven doubles and two home runs. Mahtook was 3 of 4 with a double, homer and four RBIs; he now is tied for the SEC lead with 14 home runs. Ty Ross also had three hits, and JaCoby Jones homered.

MSU on the mound: It was a rough night for starter Luis Pollorena (6-4), who was charged with seven runs (all earned) on seven hits, walking two and striking out one in 4 1/3 innings. In the sixth, LSU scored all 10 runs with one out. Four MSU relievers saw action. Notable: In the Tigers’ four-run fifth, a groundball was mishandled by MSU shortstop Jonathan Ogden with two outs to keep the door open. It was scored a hit, but was clearly an error.

LSU on the mound: Freshman Kevin Gausman (5-6) was outstanding, hurling 7 2/3 innings of four-hit ball. He was charged with the one run, struck out seven and walked one.

Bottom line: MSU is in a four-way tie for second in the Western Division, with Arkansas, Auburn and Ole Miss, all at 13-15. Alabama, which beat South Carolina, is in first place at 14-14 and is the first West team to clinch a spot in the tournament. MSU could conceivably clinch a berth Friday if this happens: Beat LSU, have Arkansas beat Ole Miss, have Alabama beat South Carolina, have Florida beat Kentucky. State needs Florida to be the overall No. 1 seed in this scenario to have the tie-breaker go its way. You’re just gonna have to trust me – and Matthew Stevens, who actually did the figurin’ on that.

Quotable: “We’re going to have amnesia on this one and start right back tomorrow and do what we’ve done for the last really 10 games, which is play well, shove it in the strike zone and have better at-bats.” – MSU coach John Cohen

Up next: Game 2 is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday. Junior left-hander Nick Routt (2-2, 3.86) will take the hill for MSU against LSU freshman righty Kurt McCune (7-3, 3.30).