Everything went according to plan Wednesday, I think. At least according to what I saw from Paul Mainieri and how he used the pitching staff. It was clear after the second inning when Mainieri replace Aaron Nola went Brent Bonvillian that he was more concerned with saving his best arms for later in the week.
Nola faced on six batter and did not allow a single base-runner and struck out three batters in his two innings of work. Mississippi State immediately jumped on the bullpen scoring two runs off four hits in the top of the second to take a 2-0 early lead. The insertion of Bonvillain was a interesting one. He sports the fifth highest ERA in the bullpen, and hadn’t been as sharp as he was earlier in the season. Think it could get any odder… it did. Once Bonvillain was shelled, he was replaced by Kevin Berry. Yes the same Kevin Berry with a 13.50 ERA in only 1.1 innings of work in SEC play. Berry entered the game with two outs and two runner on-base and walked the first batter he faced. Luckily for Mainieri, Berry struck out the next batter leaving the bases loaded.
A 2-0 lead for Mississippi State’s Chris Stratton is the equivalent to a 8-0 lead for a normal pitcher, but LSU had their chances. The Tigers had two on with one out in the first inning, but Tyler Moore and Grant Dozar struck-out to end the inning.
Jacoby Jones led off the third with a walk. With two outs, Raph Rhymes hit a single to right field, but Jones tried to reach third and as thrown out. In the fifth inning, the Tigers finally scored some runs when Mason Katz hit a huge two-out, two-RBI single to tie the game up at two, but was thrown out trying to steal second with the best hitter in the country at the plate.
Mississippi State would not allow the tie to last. In the top of the sixth State scored a run against Joe Broussard to take a 3-2 lead. On a side note, it was nice seeing Broussard out there for extended work (he pitched the same amount of innings in this game he had during conference play combined, 2.2 innings).
LSU had one final chance to produce runs, and again the squandered it. In the bottom of the sixth and a runner on first, Tyler Moore into LSU’s SEC leading 31st double play. And as predictable as Shaq becoming a NBA GM Grant Dozar hit a monster double on the next at-bat, but was stranded on second.
The Dozar double in the sixth was the last Tiger base-runner in the game as Stratton and the State bullpen retired the last ten batters. The last two batter they faced, Dozar and Ty Ross, struck out looking at strike three.
The loss means that LSU is now in the losers bracket with their backs against the wall. For LSU to win the tournament they will have to win four games in four days. The Tigers get started on Thursday at 9:30am (yea that is right) against Ole Miss.