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“[That] night was a breeze compared to last fall. I wasn’t walking around the field six months pregnant!”

Kris Budden's first assignment returning from maternity leave: reporting a 6-hour, 43-minute SEC Baseball Tournament game decided at 3:03 a.m. CT on Thursday

SEC Network was home to the longest baseball game in SEC Baseball Tournament history earlier this week, a 6-hour, 43-minute thriller between LSU and Mississippi State in Hoover, Ala.

The Bulldogs edged the Tigers, 6-5, when the game-winning run scored at 3:03 Central Time Thursday morning in Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

Budden’s SEC Network Colleagues Also Put In OT

Kris Budden’s SEC Network teammates were feeling those 17 innings Thursday morning. Play-by-play commentator Tom Hart, who prefers to stand while he calls games, was on his feet for all 17 innings.

Hart credits a PB&J sandwich he consumed in the 15th inning for keeping him in the zone. Meanwhile, Todd Walker, an analyst appearing on the game call and SEC Now in Hoover, called a 20-inning game on SEC Network earlier this season. By comparison, waiting just 17 innings for the game to end must have felt a bit abbreviated.

Hart probably longed to call this game from Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field, which boasts the luxurious “Left Field Lofts” where he and analyst Kyle Peterson called a game earlier this season on ESPNU.

For reporter Kris Budden, who returned to the air this week from maternity leave, it was a sense of déjà vu from a different LSU game on SEC Network last fall.

She was the sideline reporter for the highest-scoring game in FBS college football history, with host Texas A&M defeating LSU in 7 OT (74-72) when Budden was six months pregnant – she even blogged about working while carrying Landyn.

“In the LSU-A&M football game, I remember watching the sidelines, seeing these players absolutely exhausted,” Budden told Front Row just hours after the final pitch in the baseball game. “I wondered how they had the energy. They’d be lying on the ground and five seconds later, they’d make an incredible play. ”

The MSU-LSU baseball game “was totally different in that aspect. These guys had all the energy in the world and looked like they could play until 7 a.m.! That’s what was so great about [Wednesday night]: guys wrapping themselves in toilet paper, bringing out rally boots, dressing up as ninjas.”

Budden, who is a mom to toddler Jace and baby Landyn, is used to the lack of sleep that comes with motherhood. But the unexpected extra innings spent at the Hoover Met were a bit of an unwelcome welcome back from the baseball gods.

“I do feel like it’s a bit of a cruel joke,” Budden said. “I kept saying how excited I was to go back to work and sleep in a hotel, because my daughter is still getting up in the middle of the night to eat at home.

“I’m eating my words, because I didn’t get to bed until 4 a.m. I guess the positive side is that because I’m in a constant state of exhaustion and sleep deprivation back home, Wednesday night didn’t phase me. Although at some point this week, I’d like to get a good night’s sleep!”

When asked to compare last fall’s 7 overtimes versus Wednesday night/Thursday morning’s 17 innings (see play-by-play announcer Tom Hart’s scorebook here), Budden said identifying the biggest difference was easy.

“Wednesday night was a breeze compared to last fall. I wasn’t walking around the field six months pregnant!”

The SEC Baseball Tournament continues on SEC Network with today’s fourth-round games – Mississippi State and LSU play again in a loser-out game this afternoon at TBD time – and Saturday’s semifinals. Visit ESPN Press Room for more information.

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