Tigers save face with 6-1 win Sunday

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Aaron Hill broke out of a slump by going 3-for-5 with two doubles and a home run, and Nate Bumstead won his seventh consecutive start as LSU remained on top of the Southeastern Conference standings with a 6-1 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday at Dudy Noble Field, wrapping up a three-game weekend series.

LSU (32-16-1, 16-7-1) remains one and a half games ahead of Auburn (34-14, 15-9) in the West division and overall SEC standings, with Auburn coming to Baton Rouge next weekend for a three-game series that could determine the SEC champion.

The Tigers will host Loyola of New Orleans, a NAIA school, in their final non-conference game on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. All tickets for the Loyola game are general admission and available for $3 from the LSU ticket office.

Mississippi St. (33-13-1, 14-9) could have pulled ahead of LSU by percentage points with a win, but the Bulldogs (No. 16 Baseball America, No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 Collegiate Baseball) had already won the series by winning 4-2 on Friday and 5-0 on Saturday.

Bumstead (8-1) improved to 7-0 in SEC play by going 8 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and one walk while striking out six. Bumstead took a shutout into the eighth inning and was removed with one out to go after giving up a hit and a hit batter in the ninth.

Tiger reliever Billy Sadler came in for Bumstead and walked Matthew Maniscalco on a full count to load the bases, but struck out Jon Mungle on three pitches to end the game.

LSU, which suffered its first shutout of the season on Saturday, broke a 14-inning scoreless drought by tallying twice in the second inning with two out.

Blake Gill became the game's first baserunner when he reached on an infield single, just beating a good throw by State third baseman Steve Gendron. Gill moved to second on a wild pitch by Bulldog starter Todd Nicholas and to third on a ground ball to second by Jon Zeringue before scoring on Quinn Stewart's base hit that went off of Nicholas' glove into center field.

Stewart would move to third when Ivan Naccarata grounded a single past State second baseman Thomas Berkery and eventually score on Craig Tatum's passed ball.

Nicholas (4-3) lasted just two batters into the third inning, retiring Bruce Sprowl on a ground ball before yielding a solo home run to Ryan Patterson, the Tigers' first of the series and Patterson's team leading 11th of the season.

State reliever Jamie Gant was greeted rudely by Aaron Hill, as the Tiger shortstop followed Patterson with another solo home run, this one to almost the exact same spot over the left-center field fence that Patterson' s shot landed.

Bumstead retired the first seven batters of the game before giving up a one-out double in the third to Jeff Butts. Tatum struck out for the second out of the inning, but Naccarata's throwing error on Maniscalco's ground ball kept the inning alive, and Bumstead then walked Mungle on four pitches to load the bases.

Gendron got ahead in the count 3-0, but State would come up empty when he grounded into a force play at third to end the inning.

LSU extended the lead to 5-0 in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Hill and Clay Harris, who collected his first hit of the series by driving in Hill, and the Tigers added another run on a two-out hit by Sprowl in the sixth.

Naccarata was 3-for-4, while Sprowl and Gill had two hits each, as the 13 hits by LSU in the game equaled the number of hits the Tigers had in the first two games combined.

Gant, who came into the game having given up just one earned run in 30 innings for an 0.30 ERA, gave up three runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings in his longest outing of the season.

State averted a shutout with one out in the eighth when Gendron doubled over the head of Sprowl to score Mungle from first.

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