LSU Rides Strong Pitching to Even Series with MSU

BATON ROUGE, La. - Pitchers Lane Mestepey and Jake Tompkins combined to limit Mississippi State to three runs and Aaron Hill drove in four runs with four hits Saturday as LSU (17-12, 3-5 SEC) topped Mississippi State 7-3 at Alex Box Stadium. The win evened the SEC weekend series at a game apiece, with Sunday's series finale set for 1 p.m. (CT).

LSU scored a pair of first inning runs off MSU starter Tanner Brock (3-2) on a season-first two-run home run by Aaron Hill. Brock settled down to keep the Bulldogs in the game, blanking LSU over the next three innings before giving up a run on back-to-back doubles by J.C, Holt and Hill for a 3-1 LSU lead in the fifth. Brock gave up a pinch-hit home run by Eric Wiethorn and a double by Chris Phillips before departing the game in the sixth.

Mestepey, meanwhile, shut out the Bulldogs and faced the minimum batters through four innings. In the fifth, though, Matthew Brinson lashed a double into the right-center field gap and scored on a single to left by Brent Lewis. That rally was cut short when Hill, the LSU shortstop, speared a line drive off the bat of J.B. Tucker and turned it into an inning-ending double play. State threatened again in the sixth with lead-off hits by Jon Mungle and Matthew Maniscalco. But again Hill came to the rescue, snuffing out the Bulldog scoring threat by reeling in Jason Burkley's line drive at shortstop and doubling Mungle off at second.

The Bulldogs broke through against Mestepey in the seventh inning. Steve Gendron opened the frame with a single up the middle and Brinson followed with his fourth home run of the game, narrowing the LSU lead to 4-3. Mestepey gave up singles to Casey Long and Lewis, struck Tucker with a pitch to load the bases and struck out Mungle before departing the game. LSU then turned to Sunday's scheduled starter, Jake Tompkins, who struck out Maniscalco and retired Chad Henry on a fly ball to end the bases-loaded threat. Tompkins fanned four in 2.2 innings of hitless shutout pitching to earn his first save.

Steven Dowe, Chris Young, Brian Owens and Jeff Lacher followed Brock on the mound for the Bulldogs. The Tigers got three hits and added three insurance runs off Owens and Lacher in the eighth, two of those runs scoring on a Wally Pontiff's two-out double down the rightfield line.

MSU junior lefty Joey Collums (2-1, 2.40) will be matched with LSU freshman Jason Vargas (1-1, 3.75) in Sunday's 1 p.m. series finale.

MSU (14-9-1, 4-4 SEC) 000 010 200 - 3-10-2
LSU (17-12, 3-5 SEC) 200 011 03x - 7-12-0
WP - Lane Mestepey (5-2). LP - Tanner Brock (3-2). SV - Jake Tompkins (2). HR - (MSU) Matthew Brinson (4); (LSU) Aaron Hill (1), Eric Wiethorn (2). T - 2:40. ATT - 7575 (paid), 3,746 (actual).

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