By Randy Rosetta/Special to the Journal
BATON ROUGE – Losses sting, no matter how they arrive.
The fact that Mississippi State has piled up a bunch of the one-run kind lately just exacerbates that sting.
The Bulldogs played catch-up most of the night Saturday against LSU at Alex Box Stadium and were in prime position to catch, if not pass, the Tigers in the ninth inning.
But Tigers closer Nick Goody, after creating a major problem around him, got three straight outs – the last when he blew three fastballs past State’s Trey Porter – to nail down a 4-3 victory.
Saturday’s win was LSU’s second in a row by one run and allows the Tigers to clinch the SEC series. Three of the Bulldogs’ last four losses – and a total of five this season – have been by a single run.
The unsavory details in this one: LSU (16-3, 2-0 SEC) managed only four hits and turned four double plays. State (14-7, 0-2) collected 10 hits but stranded eight runners.
“LSU has gotten situational hits and we have not,” Bulldogs’ coach John Cohen said. “Right now our kids are trying to do too much. They are wrestling with the bat and it’s not happening for us right now.”
State had hits in seven of nine innings, but could never break through against Tigers starter Ryan Eades or the bullpen. The double plays were the main culprit, wiping out momentum in the second, third, sixth and seventh innings.
The most damaging came in the third when Demarcus Henderson tried to bunt two runners over, but Eades snared a short pop from his knees in front of the mound and fired to first to get Adam Frazier. The Bulldogs produced a run after that on Porter’s two-out single – one of his four hits.
“We hit into four double plays,” Cohen said. “On three of those, we started a runner and had a ball fouled off. It’s hard to hit-and-run several times in an at-bat.”
Porter finally gave MSU some life in the eighth inning when he hit a solo blast into the right-field bleachers off LSU reliever Brent Bonvillain to cut the deficit to 4-2.
In the ninth, Phillip Casey led off with a roller through the middle for an infield single and Goody walked Mitch Slauter. Matthew Britton put a bunt down in front of the plate that catcher Ty Ross scooped up and went to second base late to load the bases with no outs.
After a spirited visit to the mound by LSU coach Paul Mainieri, Goody settled down and got Adam Frazier on a shallow fly out to center field, Henderson on a deeper fly that scored Casey and then fanned Porter – who took a mighty swing and miss on the first offering.
“I noticed he was late in the fastball at the knees,” said Goody, who surrendered a go-ahead homer to Slauter in the 10th inning Friday night. “What really got me was when everybody in the stands erupted. I was like ‘All right. I’m about to get it here.’ ”
He got it, and the Bulldogs walked off the field with another close-call bitter taste.
“We just have to keep working at it and get better,” Cohen said after a fourth loss in a row. “Our kids are competing their tails off.”
The series wraps up at 1 p.m. today, with Cohen sending junior Kendall Graveman (1-0, 2.82 ERA) against LSU freshman Aaron Nola (3-0, 1.80).