HOOVER, Ala. – Leftfielder Demarcus Henderson’s RBI single in the sixth inning Wednesday broke a 2-2 tie, and right-hander Chris Stratton earned his 11th win of the season as No. 21 Mississippi State defeated No. 2 LSU, 3-2, in the SEC Tournament at Regions Park.
LSU (42-15) will face Ole Miss at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game. Sophomore right-hander Kevin Gausman will start on the mound for the Tigers.
Mississippi State (36-21) advances to the winner’s bracket to face Kentucky on Thursday, 30 minutes following the conclusion of the LSU-Ole Miss contest.
“It was a good ball game, and Mississippi State was just a little better than we were today,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Stratton is one of the best pitchers in the country, and he’s going to have a great pro career. He is really, really good, and we battled hard against him today. We didn’t take full advantage of the scoring opportunities that we had.”
LSU used seven pitchers in Wednesday’s game, including starter Aaron Nola, who hurled two perfect innings with three strikeouts before yielding to the Tigers’ bullpen.
The Bulldogs struck for two runs on four hits against LSU reliever Brent Bonvillain in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. RBI singles by shortstop Adam Frazier and by rightfielder Brent Brownlee highlighted the frame.
The Tigers tied the game in the fifth when first baseman Mason Katz lined a two-out, two-RBI single off of Stratton.
The Bulldogs regained the lead in the top of the sixth when catcher Mitch Slauter doubled with one out against LSU reliever Joe Broussard and scored on a single by Henderson.
Stratton (11-1) worked six innings to earn the victory, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Reliever Caleb Reed and Jonathan Holder combine to blank the Tigers over the final three innings.
Reed fired two scoreless frames with one strikeout, and Holder pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to earn his eighth save.
Broussard (4-1) was charged with the loss as he allowed one run on three hits in 2.2 innings with no walks and three strikeouts.