Eleven and counting

LSU (34-16-1, 14-11-1 SEC) picked up where it left off Friday night as the Tigers slugged their way to a 16-4 win over Mississippi State (20-31, 7-18 SEC) Saturday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium.

The win gives LSU its third consecutive series win. The Tigers will go for their third consecutive SEC sweep tomorrow in their final game at The Box.

“The kids are playing with a lot of confidence,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We’re on a good streak right now. Hopefully, we can keep it up, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

The Tigers were ruthlessly efficient from the plate, scoring 16 on runs on 16 hits behind the efforts of second baseman Ryan Schimpf. Schimpf was 4-4 with two home runs and four RBIs. With a 9-1 lead in the fifth inning, he launched a solo home run over the center field wall to extend the lead to 10-1. After Mississippi State rallied in the eighth inning to cut the lead to 13-4, Schimpf responded with a three run shot for the final 16-4 scoreline.

After falling behind early, LSU’s offense came to life in the third inning. With a runner on third, LSU senior third baseman Michael Hollander started the scoring with an RBI single. Two batters later right fielder Blake Dean smashed a home run to right field, scoring Hollander and Jared Mitchell for a 4-1 lead.

Five more runs in the fourth inning put the game out of reach. Leon Landry scored DJ LeMahieu with a home run over the left field wall. Jared Mitchell added an RBI single to right field, scoring second baseman Ryan Schimpf. Hollander added an unearned run, scoring on a wild pitch. Micah Gibbs ended the run with an RBI single that scored Dean, giving LSU a 9-1 lead after just four innings.

Junior pitcher Blake Martin (4-3) turned in a dominating performance from the mound after surrendering an early 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs took the first lead of the day after two LSU errors, including a throwing error by Martin, scored a run in the top if the first. However, Martin recovered to throw seven complete innings. He allowed just two runs on two hits and struck out eight batters. Nolan Cain entered the game in relief and allowed two more runs on two hits, striking out one.

“I really felt, in my heart, that Blake Martin was going to give us an outstanding outing today,” Mainieri said. “That first run they got in the first inning was a tough break, but after that, he was just outstanding.”

The Bulldogs managed a run in the sixth inning and two more in the eighth, but it was not enough. In the seventh inning, Hollander scored first baseman Matt Clark on an RBI groundout, and a throwing error from first base allowed Schimpf and LeMahieu to score unearned. Schimpf’s efforts in the eighth sealed the Tigers’ 11th consecutive victory.

The Tigers enter Sunday’s game having scored 31 runs on 37 hits in just two games. As the team goes for yet another sweep, LSU fans can take comfort in the knowledge that Saturday losses by both Ole Miss and Alabama have opened the Tigers’ lead in the SEC West to 1.5 games.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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