(WVUE) - Junior right-hander Alex Lange limited ninth-ranked Mississippi State to one run in seven innings Thursday night to lead No. 5 LSU to a 3-1 victory at Dudy Noble Field.
LSU improved to 37-17 overall and 19-9 in the SEC, while Mississippi State dropped to 34-20 overall and 17-11 in conference play.
Lange (7-5) allowed one run on six hits in seven innings with five walks and 11 strikeouts, as he fired a season-high 125 pitchers. Relievers Zack Hess and Hunter Newman blanked the Bulldogs of the final two innings, combining to allow no hits with three strikeouts.
"It was a tremendous victory for the Tigers tonight," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "The stage was set with Alex Lange against Konnor Pilkington. I thought our guys did a tremendous job against Pilkington. We hit the ball so hard and forced him to throw a lot of pitches but didn't have a lot to show for it. We hit so many balls right at people, and they made some terrific plays.
"Alex Lange did what he does, and he competed like crazy tonight for our team. He got big outs when he needed to. He pitched a great ballgame for us, and he was a leader. Alex Lange is the definition of clutch pitching. He gets in jams and just finds a way. Alex got some big outs and competed with everything he has."
The Tigers extended the lead to 3-1 in the eighth when Smith lined a one-out single, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on catcher Michael Papierski's single and scored on Watson's sacrifice fly to right field.
The Tigers moved into a first-place tie with Kentucky and Florida in the overall SEC standings after the Wildcats posted a 12-4 win over the Gators Thursday night in Gainesville.
Game 2 of the LSU-Mississippi State series will start at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.