State Gains SEC Tourney Berth Despite 6-3 Loss To LSU In Rubber Game
With the proper results around the league, the Bulldogs qualify for the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2007. The Bulldogs will be seeded sixth and will face third-seed Florida in a first-round game Wednesday. The contest will start approximately 30 minutes after the 9:30 a.m. tournament opener at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
Arkansas swept Ole Miss to snag the SEC Western Division regular season title. The Razorbacks also knocked the Rebels out of the SEC Tournament in the process. MSU, Alabama and Auburn finish in a three-way tie for second place in the division standings. Based on the league's tie-breaking policy, the Maroon and White earns the nod in the tie-breaker, placing them second in the West and sixth overall.
LSU improves to 36-20 overall and 13-17 in league play - tied with Ole Miss for fifth in the West. MSU falls to 34-21 and 14-16. While LSU will miss the SEC Tournament, the Tigers remain hopeful for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs will set their sights on NCAA play after their tournament trip to Hoover.
"Obviously, you feel good about making the SEC Tournament," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "That had not been done in a while. However, at the same time, you are disappointed that you missed out on a chance to win the West. Our kids competed all weekend against a dangerous ballclub."
LSU built an early 3-0 lead and did not trail in Saturday's finale. The Tigers pounded out 13 hits and rode a gusty pitching performance by Ryan Eades and Ben Alsup to a fifth straight series victory over the Bulldogs.
In the LSU third inning, JaCoby Jones reached as a lead-off hit batsman. Ralph Rhymes followed with a single. The Bulldogs then replaced starter Chris Stratton with Caleb Reed. After a strikeout and walk, Reed was touched for back-to-back run-scoring singles by Austin Nola and Mike Lowery.
The Bulldogs closed within 3-2 on a two-run home run by Nick Vickerson - his eighth of the season - in the fourth inning.
The teams traded runs in fifth inning. However, the Bulldogs could never quite get over the hump.
Rhymes touched a tiring Reed for a two-run home run to close the scoring in the eighth inning.
Rhymes, Nola and Lowery each finished with three of LSU's 13 hits. Mason Katz added multiple hits.
Eades (4-1) worked the first six innings to garner the win. Eades allowed seven hits and three runs (all earned), with two strikeouts and a walk. Alsup threw three innings of one-hit shutout relief to grab his first save.
Reed threw a season-best seven innings, allowing nine hits and four runs (three earned), with six strikeouts and four walks. Stratton was touched for four hits and a pair of runs (both earned), before being lifted after facing 11 batters.