HOOVER, Ala. – LSU junior left-hander Jared Poche' limited top-ranked Mississippi State to one earned in run in 6.2 innings Thursday night , and sophomore catcher Michael Papierski produced three RBI to lead the seventh-ranked Tigers to a 6-2 win over the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
LSU (42-17) advanced to Saturday’s semifinal round after recording its third tournament win in three days. Mississippi State (41-15-1), the regular-season SEC champion, will play Florida Friday in an elimination game. The winner of Friday’s Florida-Mississippi State will face LSU on Saturday at approximately 3:30 p.m. CT.
Thursday’s win marked the second straight day LSU defeated a team that was ranked No. 1 in at least one of the college baseball polls. The Tigers defeated Florida, ranked No. 1 in the USA Today coaches poll, on Wednesday night.
LSU is in the SEC Tournament semifinal for the fourth-straight year. The Tigers have won five of the past eight SEC Tournament titles and have a 27-5 mark in tournament games since 2008.
Poche’ (7-4), who earned his 25th career LSU win, limited Mississippi State – who entered the game with the league’s highest team batting average (.314) – to two runs – one earned – on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Junior right-hander Parker Bugg earned his fourth save of the year by working the final 2.1 innings and allowing just one hit with no walks and two strikeouts.
“I thought tonight was really a very solid performance by our team in every facet,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Jared Poche’ was as good as he’s been all year. You could tell even in the first inning that he was commanding his fastball and his breaking ball. He had life on his fastball. I thought Poche’ was outstanding, and of course, Parker Bugg did a tremendous job. It was just a solid game all around, maybe one of our better games we’ve played all year.”
Papierski drove in three runs with a sacrifice fly and a two-run single to pace the Tigers’ 12-hit attack against Mississippi State ace Dakota Hudson (9-4), who was charged with four runs – two earned – one nine hits in five innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
“We had 12 hits today and faced one of the best pitchers in the league,” Mainieri said. “I thought Papierski had a great game, drove in three runs. Nobody works harder than Michael Papierski. He’s always the first guy to the field and the last guy to leave. He had a big base hit and got the big sacrifice fly with two strikes on him. That was huge. Sometimes in the season you go through ebbs and flows, some real peaks and some really big valleys. When you’re 18, 19 years old sometimes those things are hard to handle, and I think he’s handled them really well. He’s growing up as a man.”
The Tigers opened the scoring in the third when centerfielder Jake Fraley delivered an RBI single against Hudson.
LSU increased the lead to 3-0 in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Papierski and a run-scoring single by rightfielder Antoine Duplantis, was 3-for-5 at the plate with the RBI.
First baseman Greg Deichmann ripped an RBI single in the fifth to give the Tigers a 4-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs cut the deficit in half in the top of the seventh, scoring a pair of runs after leadoff hitter Reid Humphreys reached on an error charged to Duplantis in right field.
Centerfielder Jacob Robson’s triple scored Humphreys, and Robson came home on shortstop Ryan Gridley’s groundout to second base.
Two more base hits and a fielder’s choice groundout gave the Bulldogs runners at the corners with two outs. Bugg, however, entered the game and fanned third baseman Gavin Collins to end the threat.