HOOVER, Ala. -- Defensive miscues and LSU's strong approach at the plate were No. 1 Mississippi State's undoing on Thursday night.
As for the No. 7 LSU Tigers (42-17), late night magic continued to play in their favor. With the Bulldogs' ace Dakota Hudson on the mound, the Tigers touched the potential first-round draft pick for nine hits and four runs (two earned runs).
"Credit to (LSU), they just played a better game than we did and (Jared) Poche pitched a better game than we did," head coach John Cohen said. "This is a game we weren't playing well in. The middle part of our order didn't get swings off."
That would be the case for MSU's pitchers all night as State's three errors were magnified for six unearned runs in a 6-2 defeat that sent them to Friday's loser's bracket.
The loss to the Tigers ended MSU's string of 12-cosecutive wins and 15 out of their last 16.
There were chances for the Bulldogs to grab an early lead on Thursday but they missed on Tiger ace Poche. State loaded the bases in the first and had two on with no one out in the second getting nothing out of it.
LSU would be the ones to strike first as they put together three-straight one-out singles in the third on Hudson with Jake Fraley putting the first run on the board with his RBI. Hudson limited the damage to 1-0 after three innings.
More pressure in the fourth extended LSU's lead. Two men were on with a couple of singles. With runners on the corners and one out, the Tigers got a sac fly from Michael Papierski for a 2-0 lead.
Ryan Gridley had a routine grounder to get out of the inning but threw it away at first and the Tigers made him pay with an RBI single to follow making it 3-0 as Hudson got out of further damage.
The bats stayed hot against Hudson in the fifth with three straight one-out base runners.
Things were stale for the Bulldogs offensively but an unlikely play opened the door in the seventh. Reid Humphreys led off the inning with a high pop up that the Tigers couldn't play and it dropped to put him on second. Jacob Robson sent a triple into the gap in left center scoring a run and making it 4-1.
An RBI groundout from Ryan Gridley cut that lead to 4-2 but that was all MSU could get out of it as Gavin Collins struck out with runners at the corners.
Ironically for the Bulldogs, the same error that they encountered in the top of the inning would be their pitfall after cutting the lead.
A one-out error on a fly ball to Jake Mangum opened the door for a two-RBI single from Papierski with two outs on Daniel Brown pushing the lead right back out to 6-2.
"The game showed us what we needed to defend and I guess we weren't paying attention because it really cost us," Cohen said.
The Bulldogs (41-15-1) put together eight hits in the game but got just two runs out of it. The bottom of the order led the way as Gridley and Stovall each had two hits. Stovall made his return to the lineup for the first time in 13 games when he suffered a slight fractured tibia against Alabama.
"I've been sitting in the dugout waiting for my opportunity," Stovall said. "I had to kind of clear my nerves. It just comes down to playing the game and that's what I had to do."
Hudson struck out six and walked just one batter in his 5 innings getting pegged with the loss. Vance Tatum threw 1 2/3 innings giving up two unearned runs in the game.
Friday sets up to be a big matchup with the loser going home from Hoover. The Bulldogs and pitcher Austin Sexton (7-2, 3.39 ERA) match up with No. 3 Florida (45-20) for an evening game as the Gators are expected to throw SEC Pitcher of the Year Logan Shore (10-0, 2.33).
The Bulldogs and Gators' game will start 30 minutes following the 3 p.m. game between Vanderbilt and Texas A&M.