Baton Rouge Super Regional Game One Recap

#4 LSU (47-17) 4, Mississippi State (40-26) 3

To sum up game one of the LSU-Mississippi State super regional in one word: epic, for Tiger fans at least. Down 3-0, LSU scored four runs in the bottom of the 8th to take the lead and would go on to win 4-3. The Bayou Bengals are now just one win away from Omaha.

"That's a game that we'll never forget in these parts, I can promise you that," LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said after the game. "We'll be talking about this game 10 years from now."

It didn't look good for LSU after Cody Brown smacked a two run double off of Tiger ace Alex Lange to put the Bulldogs up 3-0 in the top of the 8th. LSU had missed plenty of opportunities to get runs across the plate, stranding six in scoring position in the first seven innings.

Mississippi State starting pitcher Konnor Pilkington threw an absolute gem for the Bulldogs, throwing six scoreless innings before being lifted in the 7th following his 102nd pitch.

"Konnor Pilkington did an outstanding job for us," Mississippi State head coach Andy Cannizaro said after the loss. "He was in the zone with his fastball, threw his curveball for strikes. Kept an outstanding offensive team shut out for six innings tonight."

When Pilkington left, LSU suddenly had life.

"As soon as he came out, we knew we had a chance to come back and win it all,” said Tiger center fielder Zach Watson.

To start the bottom of the 8th, LSU leadoff hitter Kramer Robertson drew a walk, and tried to fire up the Tiger crowd when going to 1st. "As soon as Kramer walked, the gates of hell unleashed," Alex Lange said after the game. He's right on, because soon after Kramer got on base, cleanup hitter Greg Deichmann crushed a 2-RBI double down the left field line, and Zach Watson followed that up with a single to tie the game. LSU had the bases loaded when Michael Papierski hit a sac fly to center field to score Watson, which ultimately proved to be the game winning run.

Paul Mainieri sent Zack Hess back to the mound in the 9th, opting to keep closer Hunter Newman in the bullpen. Mainieri implied that Hess was pleading to stay in the game: "I was a little afraid of [Hess]. I'm not sure if I would have taken him out that I'd still be here...he was about to chew my head off." Hess did his job, striking out MSU's Hunter Stovall to end the game, with Elijah McNamee just 90 feet away at 3rd base as the tying run.

The night didn't look promising at first for LSU starting pitcher Alex Lange, but he ended up having a solid stat-line with 7.2 IP, 3 hits, 3 ER, and 10 K's.
Coach Cannizaro is no stranger to amazing performances from Alex Lange, being the Tigers hitting coach from 2015-16, before abruptly bolting for Starkville last November.

"Alex Lange was sensational tonight. He's just a guy that's going to compete and compete," Cannizaro said in the postgame press conference. "He's not going to give you anything."

After hitting Jake Mangum with the bases loaded in the 1st to surrender a run, Lange got in his zone, striking out the next two batters to get out of the jam. He would go the next 5 innings without allowing one Bulldog hit. "We had him on the ropes...with that type of ability you have to get him early or you are not going to get him. And I know that everyone in this room has seen a performance like that from Alex Lange, when you let him off the hook early, he's still going to be out there in the 7th or 8th inning and that's exactly what he did tonight," said Cannizzaro.

The projected 1st round pick left the field for perhaps the final time at Alex Box Stadium to a raucous ovation.

"That's something I'll never forget," Lange said of the ovation. "This has been the greatest three years of my life."

After a game like that, it must make college baseball fans feel good that there will be at least one more between these SEC West foes, as Game 2 will be tonight at 8:00 CT

"The cool part about this series is you've got to win two. We're excited about getting back out there," Cannizaro said. He wouldn't announce the starting pitcher for the Bulldogs, but said he would decide between Denver McQuary (3-3, 4.67 ERA) and Jacob Billingsley (2-3. 4.44 ERA).

Paul Mainieri confirmed that senior Jared Poché (10-3, 3.13 ERA) would get the nod for the Tigers.

Stay tuned for another recap from Will Scott tomorrow after Game 2 of the Baton Rouge Super Regional.