Freshman right-hander Ryan Eades earned his first SEC victory Saturday and designated hitter Raph Rhymes collected three hits, including a two-run homer in the eighth inning, to lead LSU to a 6-3 win over Mississippi State at Dudy Noble Field.
Saturday’s game concluded the 2011 regular season for LSU (36-20, 13-17 SEC). The Tigers won 12 of their final 15 games of the season, including nine of their last 12 SEC games. The Tigers will await word on a possible bid to an NCAA Regional. The NCAA field will be announced on Monday, May 30.
Mississippi State, which qualified for next week’s SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., completed the regular season with a 34-21 overall mark, 14-16 in league play.
“I’m so proud of our players for bouncing back after a difficult loss last night to win this series,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I think we’ve built a very strong case to be included in the NCAA Tournament. I feel like our kids deserve the opportunity to play in the postseason. They’ve competed extremely hard all season in the toughest conference in the nation, and I hope they’ll be rewarded for that.”
Eades (4-1), making his first career SEC road start, earned his first career league win, limiting the Bulldogs to three runs on seven hits in six innings with one walk and two strikeouts.
Senior right-hander Ben Alsup was brilliant in relief to pick up his first career save, firing three scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and recording one walk and two strikeouts.
“Ryan continues to develop on the mound, and he came through with a great outing when we really needed it,” Mainieri said. “Alsup was dominant in those last three innings; he is really making a big impact out of the bullpen.”
MSU starter Chris Stratton (5-7) was charged with the loss as he surrendered two runs on four hits in two innings with no walks and two strikeouts. Reliever Caleb Reed pitched the final seven innings for the Bulldogs, allowing four runs on nine hits with four walks and six strikeouts.
LSU struck for three runs in the third inning as shortstop Austin Nola drove in two runs with a single and leftfielder Mike Lowery contributed an RBI single.
Mississippi State narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the fourth when second baseman Nick Vickerson launched a two-run homer.
LSU added a run in the fifth on another Nola RBI single before the Bulldogs responded with a run in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Jarrod Parks.
The Tigers extended the lead to 6-3 in the eighth when second baseman JaCoby Jones reached on an error and Rhymes unloaded a two-run homer, his third dinger of the season.