Though there were times when the odds seemed long, the LSU baseball team will finish the 2017 regular season as SEC champions.
LSU finished off a three-game sweep of Mississippi State Saturday, winning 11-7 in the regular season finale and final game at Dudy Noble Field. The win pushed LSU to 39-17 on the year and 21-9 in SEC play, tying the Tigers with Florida for the regular season conference championship. Because Florida won two of the three games it played against LSU this season, the Gators will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament. Nevertheless, both teams will receive rings and be honored as co-champions.
LSU will participate in the SEC Tournament as the No. 2 seed, facing off against either seventh-seeded Texas A&M or 10th-seeded Missouri in the second game Wednesday.
How Saturday’s win happened
Saturday’s game began late after a three-hour rain delay kept the teams off the field until about 6:30 p.m. CT. But the LSU offense didn’t seem to be slowed by the delay.
Sparked by a two-run home run from designated hitter Beau Jordan, LSU scored four runs in the top of the second inning, taking an early 4-0 lead. Mississippi State clawed back over the next two frames, tying the game up at 4-4 on the strength of a two-run home run of its own in the third inning.
From there, LSU turned on the gas. Right fielder Greg Deichmann connected on a rare strike thrown his way (he was walked 10 times this series) in the fourth inning, giving LSU a 5-4 lead. Catcher Michael Papierski added another run in the fifth on an RBI single as well. Then, in the sixth, LSU started piling on. The Tigers posted three runs in the frame, extending the lead to 9-4 behind runs from Antoine Duplantis, Deichmann and Nick Coomes.
Mississippi State tagged LSU for three runs in the bottom of the sixth, trimming the lead to 9-7. But LSU wouldn’t give the Bulldogs the satisfaction of a shutdown inning, pushing a 10th run across in the top of the seventh off a throwing error from Mississippi State shortstop Ryan Gridley. LSU added one more run in the eighth as well.
All nine of LSU’s starters reached base Saturday, eight of which with hits. Second baseman Cole Freeman led the way for LSU with a 3-for-3 day, reaching base five times with one RBI and one run scored.
Freshman Eric Walker started the game for LSU, allowing four runs on 81 pitches in four innings pitched. Walker was relieved by Nick Bush, who was hooked for three runs of his own in 1.1 innings. Caleb Gilbert came in for Bush and ended the Bulldogs’ sixth-inning rally with a flyout and a strikeout. Gilbert tossed 1.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts before giving way to closer Hunter Newman in the eighth inning.
Newman closed out the game with two perfect innings.
What’s next for LSU baseball?
The LSU baseball team has a couple of days off before it heads to Hoover for the 2017 SEC Tournament. It’s next game will be Wednesday, May 24 in the second morning game versus either Texas A&M or Missouri. LSU lost two out of three games it played versus A&M this year and did not play Missouri.
Wednesday’s game will be broadcast on the SEC Network and a stream will be accessible online through WatchESPN.