HOOVER, Ala. – The Mississippi State Bulldogs had confidence, momentum and much to play for Thursday afternoon.
The No. 26 Bulldogs saw their five-game winning streak come to an end with a 5-1 loss to No. 12 Kentucky at Regions Park in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
A win meant a day off for MSU and just one game away from the SEC Tournament Championship Game. Now the Bulldogs turn their attention to the No. 5 Tigers of LSU who eliminated No. 29 Ole Miss Thursday with an 11-2 victory.
MSU and LSU meet at 3 p.m. today with the loser going home and the winner playing Kentucky Saturday for a spot in the championship game.
"I think getting an extra three hours of preparation for (today) and rest for our guys is going to help," State head coach John Cohen said after his team played three midday games in a row.
Cohen mentioned he had several options on the mound but by process of elimination Evan Mitchell may be the best choice. Mitchell is 2-1 this season with a 3.52 ERA.
Mitchell pitched 4.1 innings in game two of the regular season series with LSU giving up one run on two hits.
The Bulldogs used six pitchers Thursday, but did not have to use two of the better pieces in the pen.
"Butch and I will talk about that and see what we have available," Cohen said. "I think our bullpen is still in pretty good shape because we didn't have to use (Jonathan) Holder (Thursday) and we didn't use Caleb (Reed) (Thursday)."
LSU sends Ryan Eades to the mound. Eades is 5-2 with a 3.62 ERA.
In game two of the regular season series, Eades pitched seven innings, gave up one run on eight hits and recorded the win.
"(Eades) is done a great job this year," Cohen said. "I don't think there is a tremendous amount of drop off even though their number one guy is phenomenal. We have to execute better than we did (Thursday). It doesn't matter who is pitching. We have to execute better and get in a little bit better rhythm."
LSU took the regular season series two games to one, but the Bulldogs beat the Tigers on Wednesday in LSU's first game of the tournament.
"They are a good team so we will come ready to go," sophomore shortstop Adam Frazier said. "They are top 10 in the country and come ready like (Wednesday) when we played them. That's going to be a tough game."
Cohen mentioned in his postgame press conference that "every team is good in this league." It will be a tremendous uphill battle to beat the regular season SEC champs twice in three days.
"They won the league, they are a great club and they are going to be a tremendous challenge for us," Cohen said.