By Tiger Rag News Services
STARKVILLE, Miss. – 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.
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. CT Friday, and it will be carried on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. The broadcast may also be heard at www.LSUsports.net/live. Friday’s game may be viewed on SEC Network +, accessible at WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.
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.
Newman picked up his ninth save of the season, pitching around a walk in the bottom of the ninth to secure the victory for the Tigers. He struck out MSU clean-up hitter Cody Brown with a runner at first base to end the game.
MSU starter Konnor 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.
“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 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.”
Shortstop Ryan Gridley led off the bottom of the first inning with his sixth homer of the year to give Mississippi State a 1-0 lead, but Lange, Hess and Newman kept the Bulldogs off of the scoreboard the rest of the way.
LSU took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth as third baseman Josh Smith delivered a sacrifice fly and centerfielder Zach Watson smacked an RBI single.
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.
“Zach Watson came through for us with a couple of RBI,” Mainieri said. “We made the plays on defense. It was a great ball game by both teams. We found a way to win and it feels good to be in the win column.”