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LSU Bullpen Comes Through With Clutch Outing to Clinch Mississippi State Series 4-3

Tigers force Bulldogs into 1-of-15 at plate with runners in scoring position to cling on to series clinching win

LSU picked up right where it left off in the ninth inning Friday night against Mississippi State, jumping on the Bulldogs early and picking up a clutch performance out of the bullpen to clinch its second road SEC series with a 4-3 win.

The win ensures the ninth consecutive series win in Starkville over the Bulldogs and propels the Tigers to over .500 in SEC play this season. 

This was a game that was hard to grab much in the way of momentum as both teams responded well to runs from the other. Both offenses came out of the gates swinging with the top of the LSU order reaching base, highlighted by a three run homer out of Jacob Berry to put the purple and gold up 3-0 in the first.

During the fast start, the Tigers were able to run starting pitcher Parker Stinnett out of the game in the first and set the tone early. 

But that big lead was short lived as the Mississippi State offense found a response, scraping together two runs of its own to weather the storm on LSU starter Blake Money. The sophomore pitcher really only miscalculated on two pitches during his four innings on the mound, not helped at all by the two errors on the Tigers' defense in the first inning. 

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That's where the story of this one really gets interesting as the bullpens for both sides really dictated the momentum the rest of the way. For LSU, it was hard to find a false note in the pitching substitutions as the Tigers used a number of their big bullets the right way. 

After Money ran into trouble in the fifth, it was Trent Vietmeier and Devin Fontenot who carried the baton for the next five outs. Fontenot's final out of the fifth was one of the most crucial in the game, picking up a huge strikeout to strand the bases loaded. 

When Fontenot allowed a baserunner to get to third in the sixth, it was Riley Cooper who was trusted by Jay Johnson to get the final out and he did by forcing a groundout. The pinnacle inning stopper came in the eighth when Paul Gervase would strand runners on the corners, picking up Eric Reyzelman who had allowed a few baserunners prior. Gervase's inning ending strikeout would be the final tone setter as he'd strike out the side in the ninth to secure the win. 

The pitching moves by Johnson and pitching coach Jason Kelly were the story of the game for the Tigers as the LSU bullpen was exquisite, not allowing a run over the final four innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. The LSU pitching staff would strand 12 Bulldogs runners on base, forcing Mississippi State into a 1-for-15 day at the plate with runners in scoring position.

However, the pitching could only mean so much if the offense could figure out a way to put more runs on the board. With the game tied at 3-3 in the sixth, it was a solo homer from Jordan Thompson that put the Tigers back on top, enough to get the job done.

LSU will look to go for the series sweep on Sunday at 1 p.m.