LSU thumps Mississippi State to complete sweep

LSU brought the broomstick Sunday — in more than one sense.

The Tigers rolled up their most hits in exactly four years and had their biggest margin of victory in a conference game in three years by bashing Mississippi State 17-4 at Alex Box Stadium to claim their first series sweep of the Bulldogs since 2008.

“Hard to put into words,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “We just finished off the weekend in grand fashion.”

LSU (24-8-1, 6-5-1 Southeastern Conference) had 20 hits, its most since posting 20 against Alcorn State on April 6, 2010. The Tigers had their most hits in an SEC game since 2009, and it was their biggest win in conference play since a 17-1 win over State in 2011.

Every LSU starter had at least one hit, six of them had at least two, and Kade Scivicque hit a line-drive grand slam.

Starter Kyle Bouman and a host of relievers held the Bulldogs (20-13, 6-6) mostly in check as Mainieri’s group rebounded from a nasty two-week slide with a stunning sweep of a team that advanced to the national championship series last season.

The Tigers entered the week having lost four straight and were swept in an SEC series, at Florida, for the first time in nearly three years.

The Tigers won 3-0 Friday and 2-1 Saturday before pounding State in Game 3 with an offensive outburst not seen from this crew this season.

“I just know when April 1st hits, it’s time to shift it into another gear,” Mainieri said. “It’s something we’ve always taken pride in. It’s the stretch run.”

With six regular-season series left, the sweep vaulted the Tigers from 11th in the overall league standings to fifth and from last place in the SEC West to third.

A light rain fell as players milled around the dugout, beaming from a sweep and the reversal of fortunes. Less than two weeks ago, LSU had two runs and five hits in a listless loss at Tulane.

“It was a step in the right direction,” shortstop Alex Bregman said.

“Everyone clicked today,” third baseman Christian Ibarra said. “We were up taking advantage of pitches.”

Scivicque had that grand slam in the sixth inning on a full count, and Ibarra scored a career-high four runs, including a solo homer that sailed over the left-field bleachers.

Mark Laird had two doubles and drove in a career-best four runs as LSU brushed off its losing spell with a sizzling day at the plate.

“Everybody’s confidence just boosted up,” Laird said. “Going to try to carry it into next week.”

Recovering from a sprained ankle, Bouman lasted 3.1 innings, allowing five hits and a run on 55 pitches. He struck out four.

Bouman loaded the bases in the second inning, all with two outs, before State leadoff man Seth Heck hit a line drive down the first-base line. But Tyler Moore snagged it with an out-stretched glove for the third out, saving at least two runs.

State left the bases loaded in the fifth, too, against reliever Parker Bugg (1-1), who got the win. Relievers Alden Cartwright, Kurt McCune and Brady Domangue finished off the Bulldogs.

The Tigers got their first five batters on base in a three-run fifth, and they scored a half-dozen in the sixth — four on Scivicque’s grand slam.

The shot was scorching.

“I thought it was going to hit the wall,” Ibarra said, smiling. “Kept carrying.”

LSU hitters dinged State starter Dakota Hudson, a true freshman making his first start in nearly a month. The Tigers jumped to a 7-0 lead, tallying eight hits through the first three innings.

They piled on from there. Mississippi State even brought in its normal closer, Jonathan Holder, in the third inning to stop the bleeding. Andrew Stevenson smoked an RBI single off Holder’s 91 mph fastball, and Sean McMullen followed with a two-run scoring double.

At one point, LSU had six hits in nine at-bats. The Tigers had four extra-base hits.

For perspective, LSU had six or fewer hits in eight games in the previous three weeks.

“It was nice,” Mainieri said, “to put some crooked numbers up there on the board.”