HOOVER, Ala. — You could have caught a flight from New York to London in the time it took LSU and Mississippi State to play its 17 innings that started Wednesday night and lasted into Thursday morning, but you would've missed what may have been the best performance LSU's bullpen put together all season.
HOOVER, Ala. — LSU put up a long, hard fight, but it ultimately fell to Mississippi State 6-…
Despite losing 6-5 the Tigers' bullpen was simply magnificent. The combination of junior Matthew Beck, junior Zack Hess and sophomore M'Khail Hilliard put together a string of 11 scoreless innings from the fifth through the fifteenth inning. The trio gave up one earned run on 12 hits, two walks and struck out 16 batters across 12.2 innings after coming on for sophomore starter Eric Walker.
"Those kids did everything they could," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "I'm really just so proud of them all — even Eric. Eric, obviously wasn't sharp, but he battled through four innings. Hess was an amazing, and Beck, first of all, Matthew Beck was unbelievable.
"What happens is you lose a game and you forgot about some of those courageous, heroic efforts that so many of the kids gave. I won't forget — the kids gave everything they had and I just feel bad for them."
While Beck kept LSU in the game with his four shutout innings, Hess managed to extend the game despite having a runner on third in three straight innings.
In the tenth inning, Hess had a runner on third with one out and got the SEC's all-time hits leader in Jake Mangum to ground out to second and struck out Jordan Westburg for the final out. Then the next inning, Hess forced a ground out to end the inning with two runners in scoring position, and finally in the twelfth, Mangum hit a ground rule double, forcing both he and another runner to stay at second and third with one out.
Hess escaped once more by striking out Westburg and Tanner Allen back-to-back to end the inning.
Hilliard came in for Hess at the start the thirteenth inning and performed well, but senior second baseman Brandt Broussard committed a costly error on a grounder from Mangum that allowed the tying run to score with two outs in the sixteenth inning. Then in the seventeenth inning, sophomore catcher Brock Mathis dropped back-to-back strike three pitches which put a runner on second base. After an intentional walk, Gunner Halter hit the game-winning single with two outs for Mississippi State.
"Matthew Beck, Zack Hess, Ma'Khail Hilliard, what more could they do?" Mainieri said. "They gave everything they had tonight — a lot of guys did. It's just unfortunate we couldn't hold onto the lead and find a way to win, but it was an amazing night that's for sure."