Ma'Khail Hilliard fired a career-best nine strikeouts in Saturday's win.
LSUsports.net

Baseball Picks Up SEC Series Over Mississippi State

Brandon Berrio
Brandon Berrio
Assistant Communications Director

BATON ROUGE, La.  -- Behind another outstanding performance on the mound from freshman right-hander Ma'Khail Hilliard and seven hits from the Tigers' bats, the LSU baseball team picked up its second Southeastern Conference series with a 4-0 win Saturday afternoon over Mississippi State at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

With the win, LSU improved to 18-11 overall and 5-4 in league play. Mississippi State dropped to 14-15 and 2-7 in the SEC. The Tigers are in second place in the SEC Western Division, just one game behind first-place Ole Miss (6-3).

The LSU squad will take Sunday off before hosting Nicholls at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. The game against the Colonels will be streamed on SEC Network+ through WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app, and it can be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.

Hilliard (6-1) once again had a fantastic outing with a career-high nine strikeouts in six innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just three hits and one walk while firing 94 pitches.

“Ma’Khail continues to do amazing things for our team,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “This is what you need if you want to win games in the SEC; you need players to step up and do extraordinary things, and Ma’Khail did. He was just phenomenal once again, and he was able to make some huge pitches and get some big strikeouts. He’s just an unflappable guy, and I’m very glad he’s on our team.”

Along with Hilliard on the mound, freshman Devin Fontenot and sophomore Nick Bush combined to allow just four hits. Bush picked up his first career save by working two scoreless innings with one strikeout.

MSU starting pitcher Jacob Billingsley (2-2) was charged with the loss after allowing two runs on three hits in 6.1 innings with three walks and seven strikeouts.

LSU got on the board first in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. First baseman Nick Webre opened with a walk and second baseman Austin Bain plated the run with a double to right-center field.

Following a pitching change for Mississippi State in the seventh inning, freshman designated hitter Daniel Cabrera gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead with a two-run home run to right field. The blast was Cabrera’s second dinger of the season.

The Tigers added another crucial run in the bottom of the eighth on a solo shot by sophomore centerfielder Zach Watson. The homer was the 100th base hit of Watson’s career and his fourth dinger of the year.

“We’ve passed the midway point of the regular season, as today was the 29th of 56 games,” Mainieri said. “This is the time where we’re supposed to start getting better. We still have some injuries to overcome, but we’ve got to keep fighting and keep battling with a lot of baseball left to be played.”

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