LSU coach Jay Johnson says pitching was the difference in series loss to Mississippi State on opening SEC Weekend

LSU baseball will start right hander Thatcher Hurd against South Carolina today. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

LSU baseball dropped to No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches Poll after a disappointing 1-2 series loss to Mississippi State this weekend.

The Tigers put in some of their worst pitching performances of the season over the weekend and LSU head coach Jay Johnson believes the pitching was the difference between winning and losing for the Tigers.

“Winning and losing starts and ends on the mound,” Johnson said. “I do not think we pitched well. I think there’s a lot of things that are correctible that we need to go back and look at and do. We already started doing that.”

LSU starters Luke Holman and Gage Jump both came into the series with no earned runs allowed this season but gave up multiple runs to Mississippi State. Holman pitched 4.2 innings and gave up 10 hits, five runs, two earned runs and one walk. Jump went 3.2 innings and gave up four hits, four earned runs and three walks.

Thatcher Hurd went 5.0 innings in game three on Sunday and gave up seven hits, seven earned runs and three walks. All three starters had three strikeouts each.

LSU’s bullpen was unable to salvage poor starts. The Tigers’ pitching staff gave up 41 hits and 29 earned runs in three games. LSU only had 20 strikeouts on the weekend.

LSU also struggled with errors over the weekend. The Tigers had two errors in all three games and gave up four unearned runs over the three games.

“Defensively we did not play our best,” Johnson said. “I think we have a good defensive team; I want to be very clear. I do not think we played very well on defense.”

LSU’s offense was able to put up runs but couldn’t consistently get on base. The Tigers had a .250 batting average and a .510 slugging percentage.

“Offensively there were a few bright spots,” Johnson said. “What I told the team last night is scoring 18 runs over the course a weakened, or averaging six a game, is not enough to sweep in a league. It’s not enough to win all three games at all. I do think it’s enough to win two out of three if the other elements are in order.”

Tommy White, Josh Pearson and Michael Braswell III put in good performances for the offense. White and Pearson both hit .385 while Braswell hit .400. White had three homers and seven RBI with a 1.077 slugging percentage. Pearson had one homer along with two RBI and Braswell had one RBI.

LSU will start Javen Coleman on Tuesday night against Louisiana Tech as it tries to bounce back from its 15-5 loss on Sunday. Afterwards, LSU will host No. 8 Florida this weekend.

“[Louisiana Tech] is a very good team. I think they have like 16 wins already or something like that,” Johnson said. “That’ll be a good challenge. They have a lot of good players. I watched a bunch last night while we were waiting for out charter flight.

Johnson said he doesn’t expect any of the players to hang their head on the loss and he and the team are looking forward to getting back on the diamond this week.

“On the weekend, a team that we played for the national championship last year with draft prospects all over the field,” Johnson said. “I’m excited. We haven’t played them at home yet since I’ve been here and it’s exciting. I’d be concerned if our players weren’t excited about this week. I think they are, and you match that with some eagerness to get back out after a tough game yesterday.”

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Will Nickel

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