The LSU Tigers' red-hot bats took a while to wake up, but the eighth inning was one to remember as they scored four runs en route to a 4-3 victory over Mississippi State to open the super regional.
Junior ace Alex Lange got out to a shaky start in the first inning, but still only allowed one run to cross in the frame. He tallied 10 strikeouts and kept the Bulldogs off the board until a Cody Brown two-RBI double.
"Guys with that type of ability, you have to get them early, or you're not going to get him," says Mississippi State head coach Andy Cannizaro.
"That's a game we'll never forget in these parts," says LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "I'll be talking about that 10 years from now. The story of the game is our rally there in the eighth inning. I'm so proud of everyone who was a part of it."
Meanwhile, Mississippi State's Konnor Pilkington dialed in from the start and caught a few breaks along the way. He went six innings and scattered four hits. Peyton Plumlee, however, was chased in the bottom of the eighth inning after giving up a two-run double to Greg Deichmann. The freshman phenom Zach Watson followed with an RBI single to tie the game at three, and Mike Papierski put the winning run across with a sacrifice fly to center.
But don't let the outcome fool you. The Tigers had to battle. LSU missed a lot of chances early. With two runners in scoring position in the fourth inning and just one out, Beau Jordan flew out. Josh Smith nearly tagged a three-run home run, but the wind kept it just inside the right field wall.
The fifth inning was even tougher for Tiger fans to stomach. With Mike Papierski on third with one out, a base running blunder got him caught up between third base and home and tagged out.
And again in the seventh, LSU had runners on second and third with one away, but Jake Slaughter's fly out to center field wasn't quite deep enough for Beau Jordan to tag, and he was thrown out at home.
"Offensively, it was a little bit frustrating," says Mainieri. "I give a lot of credit to Pilkington. He's good."
But as we know in baseball, sometimes all it takes is one strong inning, and the eighth was one of the best we've seen from the Tigers this year.
Furthermore, LSU took Mississippi State's best swing and still came away with the win.
Game two is set for 8 p.m. Sunday night.
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