Sometimes it just flat stinks to be a Mississippi State sports fan.
It's Friday. It's a beautiful day. You've got a six pack of something tasty and cold. You're grilling out. Life is good. Oh, and did we mention, MSU and LSU kick off the SEC slate at Dudy Noble? Doesn't get much better than that, boys and girls.
That good feeling continued for Mississippi State early on in tonight's game, as the Bulldogs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a Hunter Renfroe two-run home run to left. State held on to that 2-0 advantage for a couple more innings, with LSU adding a single run in the 4th on a Christian Ibarra single to left.
In the 5th, State would tack on two more runs on back to back RBI singles by Hunter Renfroe and Alex Detz. Things were good. State was cruising, up 4-1. Lindgren wasn't having much of an issue.
Enter the top of the sixth inning. After getting the leadoff man out to start the frame, Lindgren gave up a single to freshman shortstop Alex Bregman. Then, after getting Raph Rhymes to strikeout swinging, Lindgren makes his first critical mistake of the night, leaving a ball up to one of the SEC's great power hitters, Mason Katz. Katz did not waste the opportunity, hitting a no-doubt home run deep in the outfield to put the score at 4-3. Although it's definitely too close for comfort, State was still winning, and things were fine.
After a three up, three down bottom of the sixth for MSU, LSU returned to the plate to face Myles Gentry, who came in for Lindgren following the Katz homer. Gentry and Chad Girodo would go on to combine on walking the bases full, and then walking in the tying run. Ben Bracewell came in to get the final two outs of the inning without further damage, but the big blow had been struck. The game was tied.
So then, for the sake of sparing you, the reader, we skip forward to the bottom of the 10th. We've entered the place no one wants to be: tied late in a game with LSU. They're thrifty. They make things happen. They win.
And that reputation showed itself tonight, as an errant Will Cox pitch found the bat of Mason Katz, giving the little/large slugger his second bomb of the night. But this one would seal the deal. After an up and down bottom of the tenth, LSU would take game one from MSU, 6-4.
On the surface, this game is what it is: a close loss to a top 5 team at home. But underneath that there's a veil of disappointment, as MSU had ample opportunity to win this game. An early lead could not be maintained, and runs were given, given to the Tigers. No, we shouldn't take away from Mason Katz's efforts, because he is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball right now. Kudos to him. But the point is, MSU had its chances tonight. And they did not fare well in them.
Four inning ending double plays. Two errors. Two balls thrown way to high to an outstanding hitter. Bases left loaded. These are the types of things that you cannot do when you play in the SEC and want to win. And MSU did all of them tonight.
The good news -- yes, there is good news! -- my friends is that tomorrow is a new day. State will go out, still with a chance to take the series, and still with approximately 13r543,35235t2316 more SEC games ahead of them this season. As my good buddy Justin Sutton tells me, one game doesn't make or break an SEC baseball season.
Still, it would've been nice to have this one.
MSU (18-3, 0-1 SEC) and LSU (16-2, 1-0 SEC) will resume the series with game two tomorrow night at 6 p.m. The game will be televised by CSS. LSU will send junior Ryan Eades to the hill, while MSU will counter with junior Evan Mitchell.