Tigers pound Mississippi State, 17-5

HOOVER, Ala.—Only 24 hours ago, Mississippi State starting pitcher Alan Johnson held the Tigers to three hits through seven and two thirds innings of work. <br><br> When Blake Gill doubled in the top of the first inning, the Tigers already equaled that mark. The Tigers scored 14 runs in the first two innings as they advanced to the championship game of the SEC Tournament with a dominating 17-5 victory over Mississippi State.

The game was called in the seventh inning with the 10-run mercy rule in effect.


With eight starters scoring at least one run, LSU head coach Smoke Laval was happy to see the Tigers bats come alive.


"We get the first three batters on to lead off the game and then it was just a domino effect," Laval said. "That just happens sometimes in baseball."


LSU (40-18-1) sent 22 batters to the plate the first two innings pounding out 10 hits and knocked out two Bulldog pitchers. Starting hurler Todd Nicholas failed to record and out and Saunders Ramsey was knocked out in the second inning after giving up five runs.


SEC tournament records began to fall in the first as Bruce Sprowl became only the third player in tournament history and the second LSU Tiger to collect two hits in an inning.


The Bulldogs finally got on the board in the fourth after two batters reached on walks, designated hitter Robby Goodson lined a RBI single into right field and second baseman Thomas Berkery knocked a two-run double off the left field wall. However, the Tigers still maintained a 14-3 lead.


Sprowl said the Tigers wanted to atone for their poor hitting performance Friday night against the Bulldogs.


"Even though we got the victory last night we wanted to come out and hit the ball better tonight," Sprowl said. "And we did that a lot better."


Sprowl was one of five LSU hitters to have at least two hits as Ryan Patterson, Aaron Hill, Clayton Harris, and Gill all had multi-hit games for the Tigers.


With NCAA regional play less than a week away, Harris said the Tiger bats are peaking at just the right time.


"This is when you want to start getting the hits," Harris said. "We all have to step up our games because now is the most important time of the season."


Given a nine-run lead before ever throwing a pitch, senior right-hander Bo Pettit (9-2) felt very comfortable on the mound picking up the complete-game victory. Pettit allowed five runs on six hits while striking out nine.


"Having that many runs that early was great," Pettit said. "I knew I just had to come out and throw strikes and we would come out on top."


The Tigers are now shooting for their sixth tournament championship and first since 2000 on Sunday when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at 1:00 pm. LSU will send freshman right-hander Justin Meier to the mound.

It will be the true freshman's first-ever postseason appearance.


Pettit said the Tigers have a chance to put an end to all speculation regarding a super regional with a victory Sunday.


"We have to play to win tomorrow," Pettit said. "Then we can say we did all we could to get a super regional."

Having only to use four pitchers through the Tigers first three games in the tournament, Laval continues to be pleased with the performance of his starting staff.

"I couldn't have asked for anything more," Laval said. "We wanted Justin (Meier) to pitch this weekend to set up our rotation for regional play and we are going to end up getting to do that."

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