Freshmen deliver

Second-ranked LSU rebounded from a 4-1 deficit with a three-run seventh inning Thursday night, and the Tigers went on to post a 5-4 victory over Mississippi State at Dudy Noble Field.

LSU (40-14, 19-9 SEC) maintained a one-game lead over Florida and Ole Miss in the SEC standings with two games remaining in the regular season. Mississippi State dropped to 24-28 overall, 8-19 in the SEC with Thursday’s loss.


The teams meet in Game 2 of the series at 6:30 p.m. Friday. An LSU win on Friday will guarantee the Tigers at least a share of the SEC championship.


“I’m so proud of the way our players competed and came back to win after we fell behind early,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It epitomized the character of our team. We always felt we could get back in the game, and our guys came through with a tremendous effort.”


Centerfielder Mikie Mahtook’s solo homer in the first inning gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. However, Mississippi State tied the game in the second on an RBI single by rightfielder Ryan Collins against LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo.


The Bulldogs struck for three runs on three hits in the third to take a 4-1 lead. RBI singles by third baseman Russ Sneed and second baseman Jet Butler, and a sacrifice fly by shortstop Frank Rawdow highlighted the MSU rally.


Ranaudo settled in after the third inning, retiring 13 of the 14 batters he faced from the fourth inning until he left the game with one out in the eighth.


“I thought it was a very courageous performance by Anthony Ranaudo,” Mainieri said. “He struggled early, but he was brilliant from the fourth inning on and he gave us a chance to get back in the game.”


Ranaudo (7-3) threw 128 pitches in 7.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with five walks and six strikeouts.


LSU trailed 4-1 in the seventh when the Tigers mounted their comeback. Rightfielder Jared Mitchell walked and catcher Micah Gibbs singled, signaling the exit of MSU starter Tyler Whitney.


LSU shortstop Austin Nola greeted State reliever Lee Swindle with a two-run double, cutting the Bulldogs’ lead to 4-3. With one out, centerfielder Mikie Mahtook singled home Nola to tie the game at 4-4.


The Tigers took a 5-4 lead in the eighth when Mitchell doubled off of reliever Chad Crosswhite, moved to third on Gibbs’ groundout and scored on a wild pitch.


Ranaudo struck out MSU first baseman Connor Powers to start the bottom of the eighth before yielding the mound to reliever Matty Ott. Ott worked the final 1.2 innings to earn his 12th save, allowing no runs on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts.


Crosswhite (0-4) was charged with the loss as he allowed one run on three hits in 2.2 innings with no walks and one strikeout.

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