No. 9 Dogs Bite Early In 12-2 Win At Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Ninth-ranked Mississippi State (14-2-1) scored 10 runs in the first two innings and got a solid pitching performance from starter Jeff Lacher Tuesday night in notching an 12-2 win over the University of Memphis (5-11) at AutoZone Park.<P> "It was good to see the guys put some base hits back to back to back and get those ten runs early," said MSU head coach Ron Polk.

Matthew Maniscalco, Jon Mungle and Steve Gendron opened the game with singles off UM starter and former Bulldog pitcher Michael Novarese (1-3). Novarese retired just two of the nine batters he faced in the first frame when State scored six times and sent a dozen batters to the plate. Maniscalco capped the six-hit burst with his second hit of the inning, a two-run single to right.

"I thought that we swung the bat pretty well tonight,"said Polk.

MSU continued its offensive show in the second inning when Memphians Brent Lewis and Joseph Hunter belted two-run home runs.

"Lewis and Hunter are not going to be what you call great home run hitters, but I hope we get eight or nine home runs out of both this year," said Polk.

Right-hander Jeff Lacher (2-0) turned in his second straight strong performance as a starter, scattering four hits, striking out six and allowing one run on a solo blast by Josh Payne in the third inning.

"I thought that Jeff Lacher struggled early throwing strike, but then started pounding the strikezone," said Polk.

Brooks Dunn, Brett Cleveland and Memphian Joey Collums worked an inning each to close out the game for the MSU pitching staff. The foursome combined for 11 strikeouts, three by Collums, who made his first appearance of the year in the ninth inning.

"I thought that Brooks Dunn, Brett Cleveland and Joey Collums did what you had to do," said Polk. "It was nice to see Joey back out there and getting three K's.

"(Dunn) is going to be a great lefty," said Polk, talking about his true freshman. "He has a lot of confidence, bordering on cockiness, but at the same time, he breathes confidence.

"Joey had the shoulder surgery," said Polk. "We are just going to try and pick some spots for him. He is throwing some pretty good bullpens, but he is really not ready. That is why we would like to have him redshirt this year, but he decided against (applying for the sixth year) and I can understand that."

All nine Bulldog starters had hits, with Thomas Berkery leading the way on a 3-for-5, 2-RBI night.

"Berkery has been struggling (at the plate) a little bit," said Polk. "He is kind of a pull-oriented young man and I think he is hard-headed at times, but he is trying to make good adjustments. Hopefully, he got himself a little untracked tonight."

The Bulldogs and the Tigers return to the home of the St. Louis Cardinals AAA Memphis Redbirds Wednesday at 7 p.m. to conclude their two-game midweek set.

"Brad Corley will (pitch)," said Polk. "We hope to get five or six (innings) out of Brad. Hopefully, we can score some runs and give some of the younger pitchers a chance to get an inning or two."

MSU 640 001 010 -- 12 16 1
UM 001 000 011 -- 3 7 0
WP -- Jeff Lacher (2-0). LP -- Michael Novarese (1-3). HR -- Brent Lewis (2), Joseph Hunter (3), Josh Payne (4). T -- 2:36. ATT -- 2,680.

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