After both teams went scoreless their first at-bats, the Tigers used a two-out, two-run third inning to jump ahead of the Bulldogs 2-0. Jon Zeringue started the inning off with a single up the middle. After stealing second, the next two batters grounded out and flied out. J.C. Holt was hit by a pitch, then Ryan Patterson doubled in both Holt and Zeringue.
The Bulldogs moved to within one in the top of the fourth inning when Brad Jones doubled in Steve Gendron.
The Tigers stretched the lead out to 6-1 with a four-run fourth inning that knocked starting pitcher Jeff Lacher out of the game. The first two batters, Blake Gill and Matt Liuzza, singled. After a flyout, Clay Harris had an infield single to load the bases. Zeringue singled in two runs. A groundout moved the runners to second and third. The next batter, Matt Horwath, doubled in the final two runs of the innings.
"Jeff (Lacher) got the ball up a couple of times," said Polk. "This is a great hitting ballclub. They came into the weekend hitting over .340."
Once again, in the fifth inning, LSU scored four runs to go ahead 10-1. Ryan Patterson started it off with a solo home run. After the next two batters flied out and struck out, the Tigers' next two batters singled and walked. Zeringue knocked both in with a three-run home run to left field.
LSU added a solo home run in the sixth inning by Nick Stavinoha to go ahead 11-1.
"The ballpark played a little short today," said Polk. "The wind was pretty much blowing out to left field. Two home runs, while home runs in this ballpark, were probably to the warning track at our ballpark. One other home run was legit."
The Bulldogs added a run on an RBI single by Brad Jones in the eight inning.
The Bulldogs made it interesting in the top of the ninth when they scored four runs off of reliever Collin Smith. The highlight of the inning was a two-run triple by Brad Corley.
Brad Jones led the Bulldog hitters with a 3 for 4 day with 3 RBI.
"Brad is swinging the bat good," said Polk. "He is a very heady player who is very serious about his game. I think he will eventually hit for some power, but he is more of a line drive, gap type hitter right now. And he is a great defensive first baseman. I don't think we have missed a beat from last year, defensively."
Jeff Lacher, whose record dropped to 2-3 with the loss, lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing 6 runs (all earned) on 8 hits. Relievers Jon Crosby, Brett Cleveland and Andy Wilson finished up. Wilson shut the Tigers down in his 1 inning of work, allowing no runs, hits or walks, while striking out one.
LSU's Clay Dirks was very effective during his eight innings of work, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7.
"I thought that Clay Dirks was outstanding," said Polk. "He was ahead in the count all ballgame. Then, he got the lead and that gave him an extra boost."
LSU was led in hitting with 3 hits apiece by Patterson and Zeringue.
The teams play the rubber game Sunday at 1 p.m. Nate Bumstead (3-0, 4.70) will start for the Tigers while Alan Johnson (0-0, 2.65) will start for the Bulldogs.
"Alan Johnson has a chance to give us a good effort and keep us in the ballgame," said Polk. "Last year he faced them twice and beat them in Starkville and didn't give up any hits in the SEC Tournament, although we did lose that game.
"We had great success against Bumstead in the SEC Tournament but not in the regular season in Starkville. He shut us down pretty good on Sunday. After we had won the first two games that series, our guys were pretty aggressive at the plate against him that day and he was missing bats. He has a great changeup that has some tumble to it. We had a hard time laying off some balls. Like hitters, pitchers have good days and bad days."
LSU 11, Mississippi State 6
MSU (14-7, 2-3 SEC) 000 100 014 - 6 9 1
LSU (20-4, 3-2 SEC) 002 441 000 - 11 13 2
WP-Dirks (5-0). LP-Lacher (2-3). HR - Patterson(4), Stavinoha(4), Zeringue(7). Time -- 2:32 Att. -- 8,289 (paid), 5,860 (actual).
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 email@example.com.