LSU Defeated MSU, 7-2

In the last game of the second day of the SEC Baseball Tournament, Mississippi State (39-17-1) lost to LSU (39-18-1) 7-2, despite out-hitting them 11 to 4. LSU made outstanding defensive play after play to survive a rocky performance by ace Nate Bumstead. In the meantime, MSU's defense, the 7th best in the nation according to NCAA stats, uncharacteristically made four errors leading to 4 unearned runs. The hard-luck pitcher for MSU was Alan Johnson, who three-hit LSU through 7.2 innings.

"I don't know if we could have swung the bats any better off Bumstead. We stroked the ball really well today, but we just couldn't get the runs," said MSU coach Ron Polk. "They made some great plays on some well-hit balls. They took advantage of our uncharacteristic mistakes."

Bumstead, throwing 8.2 innings of one-run, seven-hit ball to defeat MSU, 6-1, earlier in the year, didn't fool the MSU hitters this outing, despite throwing a complete-game victory.

"It was one of those starts where I didn't feel like I had my best stuff, but it just worked out for us tonight," said Bumstead, now 10-2 on the year.

Mississippi State threaten in the top of the first inning with two straight singles by Jon Mungle and Steve Gendron after one out. Matthew Brinson hit a sharp grounder that was turned into an ending-inning double play.

Johnson, looking sharp in the first inning, retired the side in order, one of five times he would do that during the game.

In the top of the second, MSU, like LSU in the first, was retired in order. One of the outs was a deep fly ball by Goodson to right field that traveled 375 feet but was caught at the edge of the warning track.

LSU, taking advantage of an MSU error, dented the scoreboard for three runs in the bottom of the 2nd. Johnson walked Blake Gill on a 3-2 count to lead off the inning. Clay Harris hit a ball in the hole that shortstop Matthew Maniscalco fielded and threw to second for what would have been a force out. However, Thomas Berkery, who had entered the game with an errorless string of 34 games, dropped the throw, allowing both runners to be safe. Ivan Naccarata, on a 2-2 count, hit a shot that was over the head of the centerfielder for a two-run double. Ryan Patterson was hit by a pitch, putting men on first and second with no outs. Jon Zerinque hit a line drive out to right field for the first out of the inning. The next batter, Matt Liuzza, singled on a 1-2 pitch, knocking in Naccarata for the third run of the inning. Sprowl grounded to Berkery, who threw home for a putout at the plate. Holt struck out swinging for the third out of the inning.

MSU came right back in the top of the 3rd to score two runs. Jeff Butts led off the inning with a double to left center. Berkery singled, moving Butts to third. The next batter, Maniscalco singled, knocking in Butts for the Bulldogs first run of the game. Mungle grounded out to second, advancing the runners to second and third. Steve Gendron singled to left, knocking in Berkery. With men on first and third and one out, Brinson hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end MSU's threat.

LSU, in the bottom of the 3rd, begin the inning by grounding out to short for the first out of the inning. On a grounder to second, Berkery errored the ball, his second error of the game. Johnson hit the next batter, putting men on first and second with one out. On an attempted double steal, Tatum threw the ball wildly over the third baseman's head, allowing the runner to score. Left-fielder Jon Mungle threw the ball home but was late with his throw. The runner at second advanced to third on the throw to the plate. Naccarata walked, putting men on first and third with one out. Patterson hit a fly ball to right field for a sacrifice fly. Naccarata was caught stealing to end the ending.

Tatum started MSU's next inning off with a 380' fly out to the left field alley. Goodson followed that with a line shot to the right-fielder for the second out of the inning. On a 3-2 count, Corley walked. The next batter, Jeff Butts, singled on a 1-2 count, putting men on first and second with two outs. Berkery, on a 2-2 count, struck out swinging to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 4th, LSU, for the second time in the game, was retired in order by Johnson.

Despite being out-hit 7-2, LSU led 5-2 after four innings.

In the top of the 5th, the Bulldog hitters continued to hit Bumstead hard but saw no results from it. Mungle and Gendron, after one out, hit back to back singles, putting men on first and second. Brinson grounded out to first, advancing the runners to second and third. On a 1-0 pitch, Tatum hit a shot back to the pitcher that he fielded and threw to first for the final out of the inning.

Meanwhile, Johnson settled down after the rocky second and third and retired the side in order in the 5th for the second straight inning.

Once again, the MSU hitters hit the ball well in the sixth inning. However, once again they saw no results. MSU led off the top of the 6th with two line shots to center field, one a brilliant diving catch by the centerfielder while running toward the left field alley. Butts ended the inning on a easy ground out to the first baseman.

After Johnson retired the side in order in the 6th, in the top of the 7th, Maniscalco, after one out, reached on an infield single after the ball ricocheted off the pitcher's leg and bounced to the first baseman. On the first pitch to Mungle, Bumstead threw a wild pitch, moving Manny to second. Mungle grounded out to first for the second out of the inning. With a man on third and two outs, Gendron hit an easy fly out to right field for the third out.

After retiring the side in order in the 7th, Johnson gave up his third hit of the game in the bottom of the 8th. Johnson walked the next batter, putting base runners on first and second with one out. Harris hit a fly out to right field, advancing the runner to third. Polk replaced Johnson with Brian Owens. On a pickoff attempt to first, Owens threw the ball away, allowing the runner at third to score and the runner on first to advance to third. Naccarata, on a 2-1 count, hit a run-scoring bloop single that was just out of reach of left fielder Mungle's glove. Patterson fouled out to first base for the third out of the inning.

In the top of the 9th inning, Bumstead allowed a pinch hit single by Brent Lewis with two outs, then struck out pinch hitter Tyler Scarbrough on a called third strike on a 3-2 count.

Steve Gendron led the MSU hitters with 3 hits, while Maniscalco, Jon Mungle and Butts had 2 hits apiece.

Johnson threw 7.2 innings, allowing 7 runs (3 earned) on 3 hits, 3 walks and 2 strikeouts.

"I was trying to be too fine with my pitches at first," said Johnson, now 5-4 for the season. "Later on in the game I started locating my pitches and they were flying out."

MSU plays Ole Miss at 1 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game. Junior Jeff Lacher will start for MSU while true freshman Mark Holliman is expected to start for Ole Miss. The winner of that game will play LSU at 8 p.m. Saturday night.


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 swindoll@genespage.com.

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