FINAL: MSU 3, LSU 2 (SEC Tournament)

Recapping MSU’s 3-2 win over No. 1 seed LSU in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday.

The buzz: While Chris Stratton (11-1) didn’t have a repeat performance from the first time he faced LSU this season, he was strong for six innings. And unlike that previous meeting, when Stratton struck out 17 Tigers, the MSU bullpen held firm. A few timely hits and some great defense in the outfield made for a well-rounded showing as the Bulldogs (36-21) advance to the quarterfinals.

Big inning: LSU (42-15) had just tied it in the fifth inning with two runs, but State answered. Mitch Slauter doubled, and Demarcus Henderson droved him in with a single to center field.

Key stats: MSU’s hitters struck out nine times, LSU’s 11 times. … MSU stranded six runners, LSU four. … LSU’s three left-handed hitters were a combined 1 of 11 against three MSU right-handers.

MSU at the plate: Leadoff man Adam Frazier had two hits, as did two-hole hitter Brent Brownlee. … MSU had eight hits. … State went ahead 2-0 in the third when Frazier and Brownlee had back-to-back RBI singles. MSU had four hits that inning.

LSU at the plate: The Tigers had five hits. … Raph Rhymes, the SEC’s leading hitter, was 2 of 4. … Mason Katz tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth with a two-out, two-run single to left field.

MSU on the mound: Stratton went six innings, allowing two runs (both earned) on five hits, striking out eight and walking two. … Caleb Reed threw two shutout innings, allowing no hits. … Jonathan Holder got his second save in as many days and eighth on the year, tyiing him with Reed for the team lead. His one perfect inning today gives Holder 25 1/3 scoreless innings on the season, tying the school record.

LSU on the mound: The Tigers used seven different pitchers, per coach Paul Mainieri‘s plan. The loss went to Joe Broussard (4-1), who gave up Henderson’s single. Broussard allowed the one run on three hits, striking out three in 2 2/3 innings. … Starter Aaron Nola, a freshman, threw two perfect innings with three strikeouts.

Bottom line: The Bulldogs just keep finding ways to win, no matter how many runs they score. The strong defensive play continued, with Hunter Renfroe throwing out a runner at third base in the third inning, and Henderson making a spectacular diving grab to end the seventh (be sure to watch SportsCenter tonight for that one). A lot of work remains, but MSU is in fine position to win this thing. Up next is a rematch with Kentucky tomorrow afternoon. The Wildcats were off today.

Quotable: “I’m about ready for that kid to go into professional baseball so I don’t have to see him any more.” – Mainieri, on Stratton

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