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(Associated Press)

Tensions high after questionable pitch

Last Modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:05 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

LSU head coach Paul Mainieri was furious following the Tigers 10-2 loss to Mississippi State Sunday — and it wasn’t because the Tigers lost.

LSU had already clinched the SEC opening series in Starkville, in large part due to Mason Katz’ three home runs in the first two games, including a two-run shot that proved to be the game-winner Friday night.

But when Katz led off the second inning Sunday, the first pitch from Mississippi State pitcher Kendall Graveman whizzed behind Katz’s head.

“I knew it was on purpose,” Katz said.

Umpires warned both benches, but there were no ejections.

“I thought he should have been thrown out of the game,” Mainieri told reporters after the game. “You don’t have to give him a warning. Anybody watching the game understands that Mason Katz has hit three home runs here this weekend. The kid comes up and he throws a ball behind his head, first pitch? Come on.”

In an internet interview after the game, Graveman said — with a slight chuckle — that the pitch “slipped.”

“It sets the tempo,” he continued. “I didn’t hit the guy. It ain’t like I did anything out of the ordinary. It’s ball one, so what?”

Mainieri disagreed.

“I thought it was extremely bush league,” he said in a television interview. “You play the game, Katz was playing great, they want to do something like that? You know, I can understand why — they’re probably tired of getting beat by us. So (if) they want to take it out ... distract it some other way, then that’s up to them. But we don’t play the game that way.”

Mississippi State coach John Cohen would not comment on Mainieri’s remarks.

Saturday’s LSU win clinched the Tigers’ seventh straight series victory over the Bulldogs, five of them in Starkville.

“It was a classless move,” Katz said. “The kid knows it. What can you say? That’s the way it is around here. That’s the way they want to play the game, fine.

“I did nothing disrespectful to them when I hit home runs. I didn’t run down the line yelling at our dugout or anything. I did it with class. That’s the way we play the game in Baton Rouge. That’s the way coach teaches us to play.

“That’s the difference in programs. That’s all I’ll say. They’re going to go celebrate by winning one game, we’re happy leaving with a series win on the road.”

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