LSU gave a huge boost to their postseason hopes with a big 8-5 win over Mississippi St at the SEC tournament in a roller coaster of a game. LSU starter Nick Bush only lasted 3 innings after giving up 2 singles and a 2 RBI double in the third. This game being do or die, Mainieri had a quick hook and brought in Zach Hess. The Wild Thing didn’t adjust well to being back in the bullpen, walking 3 batters and giving up a sac fly for a 3-0 State lead. THe next inning started with a HBP and it seemed like Hess had been a bad decision, but a sac bunt and a weird lineout double play to 2B ended the inning 2 pitches later and put some fire into the team.
LSU’s bats finally broke through against Konnor Pilkington in the 5th with a sac fly from Zach Watson that scored Nick Coomes and an RBI single form Antoine Duplantis that scored Hal Hughes. Hess held off State again in the 6th and then got more reinforcement from the offense. A sac fly RBI from Beau Jordan and an RBI single from Brandt Broussard tied the game up 4-4 and LSU felt like it had taken the momentum.
The Tigers built a bigger lead in the 7th on a bases loaded HBP and and another sac fly RBI. Devin Fontenot pitched a clean 7th inning and gave way to Austin Bain, who had a terrible outing. Back-to-back-to-back singles by State cut the lead to 6-5, and Bain had to be pulled for Todd Peterson. A strikeout and some spectacular defense by Hal Huges helped him escape without more damage. Defensive mistakes by State in the bottom 8th allowed LSU to build more lead on an RBI triple form Duplantis and an RBI single from Bain. Peterson gave up 2 more hits in the 9th, but kept State off the board for the 8-5 victory.
The win puts LSU back over .500 in conference play and eases a lot of the pressure off of worrying about a postseason bid. Not to say that it’s set in stone yet, conference tournament week is always full of surprises, but LSU seems to have punched it’s ticket. With that worry out of the picture, LSU turns around to face their nemesis, the #1 Florida Gators. Playing with house money, Coach Mainieri has decided to start Ma’Khail Hilliard on short rest and see if the best arm on the staff can pull off the upset. UF has not yet announced a starter. The game will be at 4:30pm, or much later given rain delays today in Hoover.