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Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Southwest Louisiana ,

LSU can wrap up West with win

Last Modified: Friday, May 19, 2017 11:59 AM

Staff Reports

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Alex Lange struck out 11 Mississippi State batters in seven innings and LSU scratched together enough offense for a 3-1 win over the Bulldogs in the opening game of a pivotal three-game Southeastern Conference series.

The Tigers (37-17, 19-9 SEC) can clinch the SEC West championship with a victory today over the Bulldogs (34-20, 17-11).

The LSU victory, coupled with Kentucky’s 12-4 win over Florida, left those three teams tied atop the overall SEC standings.

“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.”

Pilkington (6-5) was charged with the loss, as he surrendered two runs on six hits in six innings with four walks and one strikeout.

“Alex Lange did what he does, and he competed like crazy tonight for our team,” Mainieri said. “He got big outs when he needed to. He pitched a great ball game 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.”

LSU pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts as Zack Hess fanned two Bulldogs in the eighth and closer Hunter Newman ended the game with a strikeout of Cody Brown in the ninth.

No. 9 hitter Zach Watson drove in two of the Tigers’ runs with an RBI single that capped the two-run fourth inning and a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

“Zach Watson came through for us with a couple of RBI,” Mainieri said. “We made the plays on defense. It was a great ballgame by both teams. We found a way to win and it feels good to be in the win column.”

The other run also came in the fourth on Josh Smith’s sacrifice fly,

The second game of the series will be at 6:30 p.m. today with LSU sending left-hander Jared Poch? (8-3, 3.16 ERA) to the mound against State right-hander Denver McQuary (2-2, 3.89).

Lange gave up a solo home run in the first inning to Ryan Gridely — the first batter he faced — but cruised along before loading the bases in both the sixth and seventh innings.

In the sixth, when the Bulldogs loaded them with one out, Lange got a strikeout for the second out and ended the inning on a fly ball to right field.

A two-out single and two walks loaded them again in the seventh, but Lange struck out Josh Lovelady for the third out.

LSU outhit the Bulldogs 8-6, although Antoine Duplantis went 2-for-5 and was the lone Tiger with multiple hits.

Lange issued five walks and the Bulldogs stranded 12 baserunners while going 0-for-13 with runners on base, 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

LSU has won nine of the last 10 SEC series with the Bulldogs. Last season’s MSU series win in Baton Rouge broke a string of nine straight series wins for LSU over Mississippi State from 2007-15

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