Bullpen, Homers Power Tigers Past Bulldogs, 4-3
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Shortstop Jordan Thompson launched a sixth-inning solo home run to break a 3-3 tie, and the LSU bullpen blanked Mississippi State over five innings as the Tigers earned a 4-3 win at Dudy Noble Field.
LSU, which clinched its ninth straight series win in Starkville, improved to 22-9 overall and 6-5 in the SEC. Mississippi State fell to 18-14 overall and 4-7 in conference play.
LSU has won 13 of its last 15 SEC series against Mississippi State, and the Tigers have posted nine consecutive series victories at Dudy Noble Field. LSU last lost a series in Starkville in 2003.
The teams conclude the series at 1 p.m. CT Sunday in a game that will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network and streamed live on SEC Network +.
“I think our team is maturing a little bit, and it showed in the game today,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “We need to continue to re-focus and concentrate on the task at hand. It’s another test tomorrow to focus on playing quality baseball. We need to play quality baseball and let the result take care of itself.”
Thompson led off the sixth inning with a homer to right field, as the ball just cleared the fence out of the reach of Mississippi State rightfielder Kellum Clark.
Right-hander Devin Fontenot (2-1), the third of six LSU pitchers, was credited with the win, as he worked one scoreless inning and allowed one hit with no walks and three strikeouts.
Mississippi State reliever Brandon Smith (2-2) was charged with the loss after entering the game with two outs in the first inning after LSU struck for three runs against starter Parker Stinnett. Smith worked six innings and allowed one run on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
LSU reliever Paul Gervase picked up the save for the second straight day, working a perfect 1.2 innings with four strikeouts.
Third baseman Jacob Berry unloaded a three-run homer – his 10th dinger of the year – to give LSU a 3-0 first-inning lead.
Mississippi State answered with two runs in the bottom of the first as second baseman RJ Yeager hit a leadoff homer, and third baseman Kamren James singled and later scored on an LSU infield error.
The Bulldogs tied the contest in the bottom of the fifth when James led off with a homer run, his fourth of the season.
The Tigers’ bullpen — Fontenot, Gervase, Trent Vietmeier, Riley Cooper and Eric Reyzelman – combined to shut out the Bulldogs over a five-inning span, allowing just three hits with 10 strikeouts.
“All of our relievers came in and did an phenomenal job,” Johnson said. “Everybody who came in had runners on base and left them on base at the end of the inning, which was awesome. They showed a lot of poise in blocking out the crowd and executing the pitch.”
LSU starting pitcher Blake Money worked four innings and was charged with three runs – two earned – on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.