STARKVILLE, Miss. — Chris Chinea stared into the TV camera with a stone face.
There was no sweet in this bitter.
Chinea had a career-high four hits, drove in four run – on a pair of two-out, two-run shots – but LSU lost to Mississippi State 8-7 in a thrilling 12-inning series finale at Dudy Noble Field.
“I’m not worried about myself. I’m worried about the team,” Chinea said. “We fell short today. I’m still proud of the guys. We won two out of three. Looking forward to next weekend.”
Chinea was part of LSU’s improbable two-out, ninth-inning rally. Down 7-4 entering the ninth, the Tigers (40-8, 16-7) had three singles, and State walked a batter and committed an error – all with two outs.
Chinea hit the big shot: a chopping, two-run single up the middle with the bases loaded to tie the game at 7.
State reliever Ross Mitchell retired Jake Fraley and Mark Laird on groundouts to begin the ninth. He faced Alex Bregman having sat down 12 of 15 batters before the rally.
Bregman started it with a single, and Conner Hale then reached when State third baseman Matthew Britton couldn’t handle a sharply hit ball right at him. Kade Scivicque – in the midst of a hitting skid – fired an RBI single up the middle to make it 7-5, and Chris Sciambra drew a four-pitch walk.
Chinea took new pitcher Zac Houston’s third pitch just to the left side of the second base bag, driving in the tying runs and eliciting a mad celebration from the LSU dugout.
“That was the best two-out hitting display we put on this year,” Bregman said.
In the second inning of the game, Chinea ripped a two-out, two-run homer over the left field wall – his seventh homer in the last 23 games after playing the first half of the season without a bomb.
Hopeful for Stevenson
Center fielder Andrew Stevenson, victim of a hamstring injury on Friday night, missed Saturday’s game, but Mainieri sounded hopefully that the junior could return to play Friday against Missouri.
“He had this happen earlier in the year against Boston College on a Saturday and then he was ready to play the following Friday,” Mainieri said. “Hoping history will repeat itself.”
Stevenson is key for the Tigers, the consensus No. 1-ranked team in the nation. He’s batting .356, third on the team, and is capable of making sensational plays in the outfield with his speed.
On Saturday, Mark Laid played center field, and Chris Sciambra played right field while Danny Zardon served as the designated hitter.
Bain’s rough start
Austin Bain has had better birthdays.
The LSU freshman starter lasted just two innings in his third SEC start since moving into the No. 3 weekend role last month.
Bain, on his birthday, allowed four hits and two runs and walked two. The Geismar native had shined in his first two SEC starts, going at least five innings and allowing no more than six hits in each.
“He just didn’t have good stuff,” Mainieri said. “He wasn’t throwing hard, didn’t have good command and his secondary pitches weren’t good.”
Bregman had a fourth double of the series on Saturday and extended his hitting streak to 13 games and his on-base streak to 45 games. … LSU has beaten Mississippi State in nine straight series, but the Tigers have swept just two of those. They lost a series finale to State for the fourth time during this span.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.