BATON ROUGE -- Before the largest paid attendance in Alex Box Stadium history, No. 22 LSU beat Mississippi State, 9-6, Sunday and swept the weekend series in the final regular season contest at the historic ballpark.
After the victory, over 100 former LSU players spanning seven decades of baseball in Alex Box Stadium joined current players, coaches, fans and LSU Athletics Director and legendary Tiger baseball coach Skip Bertman to commemorate 70 years in “The Box.”
The Tigers (35-16-1, 15-11-1 SEC), winners of 12 consecutive games, swept their third straight SEC series for the first time since the 1991 national championship season. Mississippi State dropped to 20-32 and 7-20 in the SEC.
LSU is in first place in the SEC Western Division, 1.5 games ahead of Alabama and Ole Miss. The Tigers’ 12-game win streak is the longest by an LSU squad since the 2000 club won 13 in a row at the end of its national championship season.
“We are going to enjoy this victory and celebration for another four or five hours,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “Then, we’ll start thinking about UNO on Tuesday and Auburn on the weekend. We are going to get ourselves refocused and put winning streaks and playoffs out of our minds for now.
“I’m going to get the guys back into a good frame of mind to compete and continue to take the fight to the teams we play. I’m so proud of what our players have accomplished to this point, and we’re looking forward to continuing”
Senior right-hander Jared Bradford (9-4) notched the victory Sunday, giving up four earned runs on 10 hits in six innings and striking out seven. MSU’s Justin Pigott (2-3) was charged with the loss as the left-hander allowed six runs (three earned) on six hits in five innings pitched.
Shortstop DJ LeMahieu and left fielder Blake Dean paced the Tigers at the plate. LeMahieu finished with two hits and two RBI, and Dean collected a pair of hits, including his 12th home run of the season.
A two-run homer by MSU’s Ryan Duffy in the first inning propelled the Bulldogs to an early 2-0 lead.
The Tigers countered with a run in the second to reduce the deficit to 2-1, as Dean launched a solo shot over the right field wall.
LSU took the lead with a two-run third. Derek Helenihi drove in a run on a ground ball to short and advanced Ryan Schimpf to third. With Dean batting, Pigott threw a wild pitch to score Schimpf, and the Tigers led, 3-2.
The Bulldogs tied it up at 3-3 in the fourth. With a man on third, Andy Rice knocked in a run on an infield hit. However, in the bottom of the frame, LeMahieu ripped an RBI single through the right side, and LSU regained the lead, 4-3.
The Tigers extended their lead to 6-3, notching two more runs in the fifth. Leon Landry led off the frame with a double and later scored when left fielder Nick Hardy committed an error on a pop fly by Dean. In the next at-bat, Micah Gibbs lined a base hit up the middle to drive in the second run of the frame.
After Mississippi State recorded a run in the sixth, LSU returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, scoring a run to take a 7-4 advantage. With two outs, Landry reached second on an error, and Michael Hollander drove him in with a two-bagger down the left field line.
The Bulldogs bounced back in the seventh with two runs off on three hits, cutting LSU’s lead to only one run, 7-6.
LSU struck back in the bottom of the seventh. After consecutive singles by Helenihi and Dean, MSU reliever John Lalor threw a wild pitch, allowing Helenihi to cross the plate. LeMahieu followed two batters later with a sacrifice fly to bring in Dean from third, and the Tigers regained a three-run advantage, 9-6.
Freshman Daniel Bradshaw hurled 2.2 scoreless innings to record his fourth save and preserve the victory.
LSU will play the University of New Orleans at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Metairie, La. (Zephyr Field) before concluding the regular season with a three-game set at Auburn beginning on Thursday.
LSU 9, Mississippi State 6 (May 11, 2008 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Mississippi State... 200 101 200 - 6 14 2 (20-32, 7-20 SEC)
LSU...................... 012 121 20X - 9 9 0 (35-16-1, 15-11-1 SEC)
Pitchers: Mississippi State - Justin Pigott; John Lalor(6); Aaron Weatherford(7). LSU - Jared Bradford; Louis Coleman(7); Daniel Bradshaw(7).
Win-Jared Bradford(9-4) Save-Daniel Bradshaw(4) Loss-Justin Pigott(2-3) T-3:03 A-8701
HR MSTATE - Ryan Duffy (6).
HR LSU - Blake Dean (12).
Weather: 83 degrees and fair
Actual attendance: 6,556
Largest paid attendance in Alex Box history (8,701)
Mississippi State SS Ryan Powers was ejected in the 6th inning.