Kramer Robertson’s three-hit game and Caleb Gilbert’s five-plus innings of scoreless middle relief helped LSU clinch its 18th College World Series berth with a 14-4 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday night in the NCAA tournament’s Baton Rouge super regional.
LSU (48-17), winners of 16 straight and 21 of 23, seized control of game with a six-run fifth. Michael Papierski’s bases-loaded double plated the first two runs of the decisive rally. Robertson added an RBI double, stole third and scored on Hunter Stovall’s two-out throwing error to make it 9-4.
Gilbert (6-1), who entered the game in the third inning, struck out six while allowing two hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings.
Denver McQuary (3-4), the fourth pitcher of the game for Mississippi State (40-27), took the loss after giving up four runs in the fifth.
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Rain delayed the start of the game and interrupted play twice more before it ended at 1:36 a.m. local time.
Robertson finished with two RBI and three runs scored. He was subbed out of the game, along with fellow seniors Greg Deichmann and Cole Freeman, after initially taking the field in the bottom of the ninth. The three received a standing ovation as they walked off the field with their arms around one another.
LSU, which played as the visitor in Game 2 of the series, scored five in the top of the ninth, highlighted by Freeman’s two-run double and Antoine Duplantis’ two-run single.
Senior closer Hunter Newman finished off the victory for the Tigers and quickly wound up at the bottom of a pile of celebrating teammates near the mound.
Mississippi State starter Jacob Billingsley didn’t record an out before he was pulled from the game after giving up three singles and a walk as LSU took an immediate 2-0 lead.
Robertson led off with a single, Freeman walked, Duplantis singled home Robertson and Deichmann singled home Freeman.
Trey Jolly entered the game and got MSU out of the first without further damage, but had his own trouble in the second, allowing a walk, sacrifice bunt and Robertson’s single before his balk on a fake pickoff attempt toward first base sent Papierski home with the Tigers’ third run.
LSU starter Jared Poche looked dominant in the first two innings, only to suddenly lose his command in the third. Poche walked a batter, gave up a two-run homer to Harrison Bragg high over the left field wall, then walked the bases loaded.
Jake Mangum then hit a bounding ball up the middle off of Gilbert. Robertson slid to stop it from getting to center field but could not get an out, and Brent Rooker scored to tie it at 3.
Elijah MacNamee followed with a single to center to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead. Gilbert did not allow a hit after that, however, allowing LSU to rally back in front and cruise to the finish.