Bulldog right fielder Brad Corley walked to open the second inning and scored the game's first run on J.B. Tucker's double into the left field corner. State struck for another run off LSU starter Bo Pettit (7-2) in the fifth. Thomas Berkery singled up the middle and Matthew Maniscalco followed with a double to right-center field.
State chased Pettit from the game an inning later when the the first five Bulldog hitters reached safely. Corley opened the inning with a double, Robby Goodson followed with a single to center field, and Tucker blooped another single to center field, scoring Corley. Jon Mungle walked, finishing Pettit's stint on the mound. Billy Sadler followed Pettit on the hill, and Berkery greeted him with a sharply-hit two-run single to left. Sadler retired the next three Bulldogs to end the inning, but not before State had expanded its lead to 5-0.
Tucker, Maniscalco and Berkery all had two hits each as MSU out-hit LSU 9-4. Holt and Ivan Naccarata had two hits each for the Tigers, who have now dropped five of their last six games to Mississippi State.
Johnson, who went the distance and tossed a two-hit complete-game shutout at instate rival Mississippi Mar. 29, held LSU to its lowest hit total this season and retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced in LSU's first regular-season shutout since 1998.
Pettit gave up five runs on seven hits, walked three and struck out six in five innings of mound duty. Billy Sadler and Jason Determann combined to shut the Bulldogs out the rest of the way.
Mississippi State and LSU close out their three-game series Sunday at 1:30 p.m., with the Bulldogs taking aim on their first series sweep of LSU since 1985. MSU sophomore lefty Todd Nicholas (4-2, 3.22) will be matched with LSU junior right-hander Nate Bumstead (7-1, 3.90).
MISSISSIPPI STATE 5, LSU 0
LSU 000 000 000 -- 0-4-1
MSU 010 013 00x -- 5-9-0
WP -- Alan Johnson (5-2). LP -- Bo Pettit (7-2). T -- 2:24. ATT -- 7,561 (paid), 7,162 (actual).
Alan Johnson and J.B. Tucker. Bo Pettit, Billy Sadler (6), Jason Determann (8) and Matt Liuzza.
What did you have going for you today?
"I had great stuff today. Everything was working. Today, I really had good control of my fastball. I was ahead in the count and that really offset the batters."
What did you see last night watching LSU's guys bat? What did you use today after watching them?
"Definitely a changeup. They tried to pull everything. They didn't really try to hit away."
You didn't walk a batter today.
"I credit that to getting the first pitch strike over and then battling."
Talk about the lift you got when they put the three-spot on the scoreboard in the sixth inning.
"Anytime they score it is big, but a 1-0 game, more than likely, they are pulling me in the seventh inning to get in the bullpen. Since we got the runs, that was huge."
Their batting order starts off with several lefthanders. Does that play into how you pitch?
"It really doesn't matter. In high school I wasn't that well prepared to face lefties. Now, I have a changeup and that has been working great for me this year since Coach Rock has been working with me on it."
LSU hadn't been shutout since 1998.
"I'm still kind of in awe of it because they are one of the top 5 teams in the nation."
You've been in a little bit of a slump the last few outings. What was the difference today from the previous outings?
"Composure, holding yourself together. I didn't get down on myself. I knew I was capable of doing things, like I did earlier in the year. I kept battling and I finally figured out what I was doing wrong."
What were you doing wrong?
"Everything was up. I was trying to throw too hard, trying to do too many things."
How does this compare to your first shutout at Ole Miss at Oxford?
"I would definitely say this was much bigger for me. You hear of LSU, year in and year out, being a powerhouse team, not only in the SEC but also nationally. To shut them out at home was big."
The defense made all the plays behind you today.
"I give the defense all the credit. Without our defense, we wouldn't be anywhere. We probably have one of the best defenses in the nation. With diving plays like Brinson's last night, Steve (Gendron) catching short hop balls, turning two, the outfield playing great, what else could you ask for."
You had a rough April, now you beat a top-10 team twice in May. Have you come together at the right time in your mind?
"Yeah, as a team, we were in a slump. It might have been when we needed to get in a slump, because now, it seems like we are putting the ball in play, getting the timely hits, and we are able to get the runs that we need."
Talk about the difference in Alan today compared to his last few outings.
"Alan, when he comes out and throws strikes, is a great pitcher. He showed that today. He had a little more velocity on his fastball. And he was getting real emotional at the end, which is good because he has had a couple of rough outings."
Did you hear the LSU hitters saying anything about not being able to hit him that well?
"No, they weren't saying anything, but you could tell by their body language that they were getting frustrated. Everything that he was throwing, his slider, curveball, fastball, everything was going for a stike. He could set people up and do whatever he wanted."
Do you feel this was his best game of the year, even better than the two against Ole Miss and Arkansas?
"I would say this was his best one, definitely. He has the potential to do that everytime. That's why I like catching him. He throws strikes and works quickly, which keeps everybody in the game."
With Alan pitching well again, how much confidence does it give the team going down the stretch run?
"This is a real good game for us to win, especially for Alan. The confidence level is definitely going up because we know we can count on him. If we put up a couple of runs with the pitching performance like he had today, we will definitely win some ball games."
How much does alternating at catcher help you and Craig Tatum late in the season?
"It definitely helps us, especially toward the end of the season. We are both beat up a little bit and it is definitely a luxury to have two guys go out and do the job."
What makes Alan Johnson of effective on the mound?
"He was pitching down hill. He had the breaking ball. He didn't go to a three ball count very much. He changed speeds very well. He had the crowd behind him. The heat didn't bother him because he is not a max effort guy. We played good defense behind him.
"I thought his stuff was great. I told him mid-week, after watching the Florida tape that he threw in, that his stuff was very good. But, the road is tough. Ask LSU. It is no breeze on the road.
"He could be the SEC pitcher of the week for the third time. I've never had anybody do that more than once."
After the month of April you had, you are now just one game out of first.
"That is pitching and defense. It is not offense. We are still not taking pretty swings. We have to have some luck. We had some luck today, had some chink hits that fell in."
Talk about your pitching the last two days.
"Our pitching was very, very good today and yesterday. In fact, Smoke (Laval) complimented our pitching staff at home plate after the game, saying that our pitchers really pitched them well."
Talk about tomorrow's game.
"(Nate) Bumstead is nasty and may be their best pitcher. Smoke Laval feels like this kid is very good. He has won six straight games. Todd (Nicholas) is going to have to pitch well. But, thankfully, we have the bullpen rested. Our bullpen is in better shape than LSU's."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.