MSU's National Seed Hopes Come Into Question After Another Lopsided Loss at SEC Tourney

Bulldogs suffered a run-rule defeat for the second straight day to get eliminated in Hoover.
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In the world of college sports, sometimes players and coaches can be professional sugarcoaters. But on Thursday, in the aftermath of a second-straight run-rule loss in the Southeastern Conference Tournament that sent No. 8 Mississippi State on its way back to Starkville, there was no putting lipstick on this pig.

"It's not good," MSU's Rowdey Jordan said following State's 12-2 defeat to Tennessee on Thursday. "It's embarassing."

The Volunteers, like the Florida Gators only 24 hours before, didn't even need nine innings to sink MSU. Tennessee walked off in the eighth when Drew Gilbert's RBI single to right gave the Vols the needed 10-run margin following at least seven innings of play. 

Tennessee touched up three of State's top arms and likely the top three – Christian MacLeod, Will Bednar and Landon Sims. The Bulldogs couldn't get their offense to click. It was somewhat a mirror image of Wednesday.

The final tally over two brutal days for State? The Bulldogs were outscored 25-3. They found themselves in early holes and swimming upstream over the entirety of their short stay in Hoover.

"Two poor games in a row," MSU head coach Chris Lemonis said. "That's about as much as I can say about it."

Make no mistake, Mississippi State's ultimate goal for this season wasn't to hold the SEC Tournament championship trophy anyway. While the Bulldogs would have surely loved a Sunday celebration in Hoover, their eyes have truly been looking at trying to earn a June party in Nebraska. The question now has become though, did the last two days make the path to those plans more difficult?

Entering this week, both D1Baseball and Baseball America projected Mississippi State to be a national seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. That would mean MSU's road to the College World Series would never have to leave Dudy Noble Field. And while a Regional site selection seems all but assured, did State just possibly play its way out of being a national seed with the best chance to host a Super Regional in Starkville?

"Yeah, I think it's a concern," Lemonis said. "I think our resume was really good coming in [to the SEC Tournament] and I think somebody would have to do something pretty amazing to go over us. But it's always a concern. You're trying to build your resume every day. We came in with a really good one and we played just two tough games the last two days."

In the aftermath of Thursday's MSU loss, D1Baseball Managing Editor Kendall Rogers took to Twitter and in a couple of separate posts, said he thinks State is still in position to be a national seed. However he noted the door is certainly now open for a team to leap the Bulldogs:

Hosting sites are set to be announced this coming Sunday with the full NCAA Tournament bracket and seeding set to be revealed on Monday. And while the Bulldogs can rest easy knowing they are comfortably in the field with a Regional almost assuredly headed to their home field, the national-seed-or-not situation caused by the last two days in Hoover have certainly added some intrigue to the upcoming announcements. 

In the meanwhile though, the Bulldogs can do nothing but charge forward. They just hope the SEC Tournament ends up being nothing more than a blip on the radar screen on a trek to Omaha.

"We're going to go home and regroup," Allen said. "Go back to practice, have a good week of practice, and get ready for next week. I don't know what else we can do. We can lay down like everyone wants us to or go home and get back to work like we always do."

Mississippi State's Tanner Allen (5) takes an extra few minutes to recover after fouling a ball off his foot on Thursday. MSU went on to lose 12-2 to Tennessee as the Bulldogs were eliminated from the SEC Baseball Tournament.  (Photo by Gary Cosby Jr.)

Mississippi State's Tanner Allen (5) takes an extra few minutes to recover after fouling a ball off his foot on Thursday. MSU went on to lose 12-2 to Tennessee as the Bulldogs were eliminated from the SEC Baseball Tournament.  (Photo by Gary Cosby Jr.)

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