After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Bulldogs did enough in their series against LSU to prove they can reach the upper echelon of SEC baseball.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs squared off against LSU in huge SEC-opening series. While Bulldog fans had high expectations to win the series, the Tigers managed to grab two in Starkville.
Starting Friday night, many Mississippi State fans started tweeting about how losing this series would be costly to the Bulldogs. Others questioned whether Mississippi State belonged in the top-ten in the country.
To have those doubts miss the point of a series such as this. Instead of handwringing, Mississippi State fans should be thinking about the following:
1. The Bulldogs Were Lower Ranked and Not Favored
That's right. LSU came into this series as the higher ranked foe and favorite to walk away with a series victory. Granted with the series being played in Starkville, it might have made it seem more likely for Mississippi State to win the series, which they almost did. However, at the end of the day, it is hard to say that this was a must-win, should-win series for Mississippi State.
2. The Bulldogs Proved They Can Beat LSU in Tournament Play
Before everyone jumps to a conclusion, yes, winning a series is very important in SEC play. If a team does not win series, they will not play in the post season. That said, when taking on the top teams in the SEC, it is important for a squad to walk away knowing they can defeat someone in a one game scenario, or even a two out of three (assuming an all-SEC superregional).
The Bulldogs gained that knowledge this weekend against LSU. The series played out as most would have expected with LSU picking up a solid win, and the Bulldogs accomplished that same feat. Friday night was the thriller, a game that Mississippi State could have won but let slip away. In a few months if the Bulldogs and Tigers meet in Hoover, who is going to feel that Mississippi State has less than an equal chance to pick up the win?
3. All a Team Needs is to be a Top-Four Seed, Not Regular Season Champs
Would it be nice to see Mississippi State win the SEC regular season crown? The obvious answer to that question is yes. Is it necessary for the Bulldogs to do so to make a post-season run? No.
With the new dynamics of the SEC baseball tournament, the Bulldogs need to work to secure a top-4 seed to get a first round bye. The simple fact is that seeds 1-4 will play a tough team in their first matchup. The important thing is staying out of the early single elimination round. Taking one against LSU will help Mississippi State in that quest.
If a team earns a top-four seed in the SEC tournament, they will probably host a regional.