Baseball Drops Home Finale; To Face Gators

LSU's senior class with head coach Paul Mainieri (1)
LSU's senior class with head coach Paul Mainieri (1)
Steve Franz
Chad Vignes
Chad Vignes

Tigers Take on Florida at 4:30 p.m. CT Wednesday in First Round of SEC Tournament

BATON ROUGE -- Mississippi State scored an early run in the first and one run in the eighth, and Bulldog starter Chris Stratton threw seven shutout innings to defeat No. 27 LSU, 2-1, Saturday afternoon in Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers (36-20, 14-16) have earned the No. 8 seed in the SEC Tournament and will face top-seeded Florida at 4:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. Mississippi State (23-33, 6-24) snapped a 14-game conference losing streak with Saturday's win.

"Baseball is such an unpredictable game," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "After the way we swung the bats the past two days, I never would have thought we'd score just one run. We had some good at-bats and some hard-hit balls, but we never could generate any momentum at the plate. We have to put this behind us and look forward to the postseason beginning Wednesday against a great Florida team."

Stratton (5-3) allowed no runs on three hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts to earn the win. LSU starter Chris Matulis (5-3) was charged with the loss after allowing one run on two hits in two innings of work.

Mississippi State took a 1-0 lead in the first when Ryan Duffy ripped an RBI single through the right side, scoring Nick Vickerson, who led off the game with a walk. Duffy's single extended his hitting streak to six-straight games.

A pitchers' duel ensued over the next five innings as Bulldog starter Chris Stratton held the Tigers scoreless while allowing only three hits in that span. On the other side, LSU's bullpen combination of Ben Alsup, Joey Bourgeois and Paul Bertuccini shut-out the Bulldogs from the second through the seventh innings.

Alsup was forced to leave the game in the fifth after taking a line drive in the hand, giving way to Bourgeois. Bertuccini entered the game in the seventh with two outs and the bases loaded and struck out Duffy to end the inning and the Bulldogs' threat.

Mississippi State extended its lead to 2-0 in the eighth when Vickerson reached first on a throwing error by third baseman Alex Edward, allowing pinch runner Sam Frost to score from third.

The Tigers pulled within one run at 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth when Blake Dean scored from third with the bases loaded on a ground out by Matt Gaudet.

Junior right-hander Anthony Ranaudo shut down the Bulldogs in order in the ninth to lead the Tigers into the bottom of the frame trailing 2-1. Bulldog reliever Kendall Graveman issued a walk to Trey Watkins with one out in the inning, but forced Leon Landry into a fielder's choice and got Gibbs to ground out to end the game, earning him his first save of the season.




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