STARKVILLE – Mississippi State was not going to stand between LSU and No. 1.
Leon Landry made sure of that.
Landry went 5-for-6 with three home runs and seven RBIs in No. 2-ranked LSU’s 15-4 win Saturday at Dudy Noble Field. The win gave the Tigers (41-15, 20-10 SEC) the Western Division title and No. 1 seed for next week’s SEC Tournament.
LSU ended the regular season with the same league mark as Ole Miss, but it owns the head-to-head tie-breaker.
“We’ve only lost two games in a row one time the whole season, so I knew our kids had the resiliency,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “They don’t hang their heads, they just keep battling.”
MSU ended its first season under coach John Cohen at 25-29 overall, 9-20 in SEC play. The Bulldogs did not qualify for the tournament for the second straight year, the first time that’s happened in school history.
MSU won Friday’s game, 8-7, and was seeking its third series victory of the season. Starter Devin Jones (0-4), a freshman, was knocked around and knocked out of the game after two innings.
His second pitch of the game was drilled by Landry for a home run, and a five-run LSU second inning was highlighted by Blake Dean’s three-run blast to center.
Jones was charged with six runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out one.
Landry, who did not start the previous two games, “played well today, but I feel like he could be pitched better, too. And I don’t feel like we pitched him very well,” Cohen said.
LSU was already up 6-1 in the top of the third when lightning and rain caused a 1-hour, 57-minute delay. It didn’t dampen LSU’s bats, as the visitors finished with 23 hits.
Ryan Schimpf had four hits, and Dean had four RBIs for the Tigers.
Nolan Cain (4-0) worked three innings after the rain for the win.
MSU got two hits from Connor Powers, a power-hitting junior who will now have to consider his pro options.
“We’ll just see how everything plays out over the next couple of weeks,” he said.
Gone for sure are nine seniors. As for who’s coming back – MSU signed a large class this year and will have to trim from its current roster to accommodate them – Cohen will begin addressing that today. There’s a team meeting at 1 p.m., then individual player meetings that start at 2 p.m. and will conclude Monday.
“We’ll do what’s necessary for this program to flourish,” Cohen said, “because that’s what it deserves, our fans deserve, it’s what our administration deserves, and really it’s what the players deserve.”
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal