BATON ROUGE, La. - Two homers and five RBI by designated hitter Matt Gaudet, including the game-winning sacrifice fly in the eighth, lifted No. 27 LSU to a 14-13 win over Mississippi State Thursday night in Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (35-19, 13-15) snapped a six-game losing streak with the win. Mississippi State dropped to 22-32 overall and 5-23 in the SEC with the loss. The series between LSU and Mississippi State will continue Friday at 7 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU is vying for a berth in the eight-team SEC Tournament that begins next Wednesday in Hoover, Ala. LSU clinches a berth on Friday if the Tigers defeat Mississippi State and either Georgia defeats Kentucky in Athens or Tennessee defeats Alabama in Knoxville.
After trailing 12-9 entering the inning, the Bulldogs tied the game 12-12 in the eighth after a sac fly RBI and a pair of RBI singles. The last single off reliever Matty Ott hit off his foot, forcing him to leave the game. Junior right-hander Anthony Ranaudo entered the game and hit Powers with the bases loaded to make the score 13-12.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the frame when Micah Gibbs launched a solo homer to right to tie the score at 13-13. After a successful hit-and-run single by Austin Nola advanced Blake Dean to third, Gaudet knocked him in with a deep sacrifice fly to center to regain the Tigers' lead at 14-13.
Ranaudo (3-2) earned the victory after shutting down the Bulldogs in the ninth, despite surrendering a lead-off single, to secure the victory for LSU. Caleb Reed (0-2) was charged with the loss for the Bulldogs after allowing the two runs in eighth.
"I can't say enough about how hard every guy in our lineup played tonight," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "We had some great at-bats and we came back from a deficit three different times. It was a game we had to win, and I'm very proud of our team for playing with tremendous determination."
Along with Gaudet's five RBI, the Tigers were also led by Gibbs, who went 3-for-5 with a homer and two runs scored, and third baseman Alex Edward, who finished 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning when Nick Vickerson and Luke Adkins led off the game with back-to-back solo homers. Later in the inning, designated hitter Russ Sneed tripled off the wall in right to score Connor Powers to put Mississippi State ahead 3-0.
In the second inning, Adkins ripped a two-out RBI single to right, scoring Vickerson from second to increase State's lead to 4-0.
The Tigers erupted for six runs in the bottom of the second beginning when Gaudet launched a two-run homer to right-center to cut the LSU deficit to 4-2. The homer was Gaudet's 17th of the season.
LSU followed with six-straight hits, including RBI singles by Mahtook, Watkins and Dean. After Gaudet's dinger, Edward and Tyler Hanover singled followed by Mikie Mahtook, who laced an RBI single to left, scoring Edward from second. On the play, Bulldog left fielder Ryan Duffy's throw in went through the infield and ended up near the LSU dugout, allowing Hanover to score and Mahtook to advance to third, tying the score at 4-4.
The next batter, Trey Watkins, crushed an RBI single to score Mahtook, giving LSU a 5-4 lead. Watkins scored to make the score 6-4 when Blake Dean drove him in with a single up the middle, capping the Tigers' six-straight singles in the inning.
The Bulldogs pulled within one at 6-5 in the third when Wes Thigpen lifted a sac fly RBI to center. Bourgeois struck out the next batter, Jonathan Ogden, to end the inning with a runner on second.
In the fourth, Mississippi State took a 7-6 lead when Duffy lifted a deep sac fly to center, plating two runs. Vickerson scored from third, and Adkins scored from second after testing the relay from Nola to the plate. The throw beat Adkins and Gibbs applied the tag, but dropped the ball and was charged with an error.
The Tigers regained the lead, 8-7, in the fifth when Nola roped a two-run single up the middle, scoring Gibbs and Dean, who both singled in the inning. Later in the inning, Edward smashed a two-out double to the gap in right-center, scoring Nola from third and increasing LSU's lead to 9-7.
In the sixth, Duffy pulled the Bulldogs to within one again at 9-8 when he doubled down the right field line, scoring Adkins.
After the Bulldogs tied the game at 9-9 with a bases loaded walk in the seventh, Gaudet blasted his second two-run homer of the game in the bottom of the frame to regain the LSU lead at 11-9. The homer was Gaudet's 18th of the year and it marked his third multi-homer game of the season.
Two batters later, Edward launched his first-career home run, a solo shot to increase the LSU lead to 12-9.