MSU took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a Matthew Brinson RBI fielder's choice and a two-out RBI single by Goodson.
In the bottom of the second, Georgia, winners of their last six games and 12-4 in their last 16 home games prior to today's game, tied the game up on a one-out home run by Marshall Szabo and an RBI single by Jasha Balcom.
After a scoreless third inning, the MSU Bulldogs got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. J.B. Tucker walked, then Jeff Butts singled to move him to third base. Thomas Berkery hit a grounder to short that knocked in Tucker to give MSU a 3-2 lead.
MSU starting pitcher Alan Johnson, after pitching a scoreless third and fourth, ran into trouble in the fifth inning. The first two batters, Josh Smith and David Coffey, singled. MSU coach Ron Polk quickly pulled Johnson and brought in middle relief ace Saunders Ramsey.
"It was so hot out there today and so humid," said Polk as he explained one of the reasons for pulling Johnson in the fifth. "It was asking too much for Alan Johnson and (Georgia starting pitcher) Sean Ruthven to go too long. So we pulled Alan a little early.
Ramsey responded by striking out Lee Mitchell. The next batter, Jon Armitage, on a 1-2 count, hit a ball that leftfielder Jon Mungle attempted to make a diving catch of, but the ball skipped past Mungle, allowing Armitage to wind up with a two-run triple. Georgia now led 4-3.
But Georgia wasn't through in the inning.
The next batter, Justin McClain, the hitting hero for Georgia Friday night, hit a fly ball to centerfield that knocked in Armitage, giving Georgia a 5-3 lead going into the sixth inning.
MSU quickly got the two runs back in the top of the sixth.
Brad Corley got on by way of an error to lead off the inning. Robby Goodson then hit a single. Now with men on first and second, Georgia changed pitchers, bringing in Matt Woods to replace starting pitcher Sean Ruthven. On his first pitch, Woods hit J.B. Tucker, loading up the bases. The next batter, Butts, hit a fly ball to centerfield that knocked in Corley. Thomas Berkery hit a grounder to short that knocked in Goodson and tied the game 5-5.
In the bottom of the sixth, Georgia mounted their own threat by putting men on first and second with one out. Coach Polk brought in hard-throwing Jamie Gant to replace Ramsey. Gant responded to the challenge by getting out of the inning with no runs scored by causing both hitters to hit harmless fly balls to Butts in centerfield.
After a scoreless seventh inning, Mississippi State took the lead for good in the eight. Woods walked Goodson. Georgia brought in Brent Benefield to replace him. The first batter he faced, J.B. Tucker, hit a fly ball to rightfield for the first out of the inning. Butts, on a 1-2 count, stroked a cluth two-bagger that knocked in Goodson, giving MSU a 6-5 lead.
Gant, now with a lead, shut down the very dangerous Georgia hitters the rest of the way, earning his third victory of the year against one loss.
"Jamie is the guy we have gone to," said Polk. "And he may have to go again tomorrow."
Gant, in 3 2/3 innings, allowed no runs on 1 hit and 2 walks, while striking out no one. Gant, in 16 relief appearances, has thrown 37 innings, allowing 4 earned runs on 26 hits, 13 walks, while striking out 27. His ERA is 0.97.
Matt Woods took the loss for Georgia, his 5th loss against 1 win.
Georgia starter Sean Ruthven went 5 innings, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 5 hits, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts.
Robby Goodson and Jeff Butts led MSU at the plate with two hits apiece. Butts, Brinson and Berkery had two RBI apiece.
"Today, we found some holes in the outfield," said Polk. "Butts, Goodson and Brinson pretty much hit the same spot. I coached here for two years. This is an easy ball park to score someone from first base."
Georgia was led at the plate by Armitage and Balcom, both of whom had 2 hits each.
Mississippi State and Georgia play the final game of the three-game series Sunday with the gametime at Noon (CT). MSU is expected to start junior Jeff Lacher (5-0, 3.97) instead of normal Sunday starter Todd Nicholas, while Georgia will very likely start freshman Will Startup (3-3, 3.22) . Lacher will be making his 1st SEC start after starting 7 mid-week games, while Startup will be making his 4th start overall and 3rd SEC start.
"We will probably go with Jeff Lacher tomorrow and have Nicholas available if we need him," said Polk. "We think that Lacher may be our best choice tomorrow to give us three or four good innings. We are going to piece this together. I think that our bullpen is in a little better shape than Georgia's."
MISSISSIPPI STATE 7, GEORGIA 5
MSU 200 102 011 -- 7-7-1
UGA 020 030 000 -- 5-9-2
WP -- Jamie Gant (3-1). LP -- Matt Woods (1-5). HR -- (UG) Marshall Szabo (4). T -- 3:13. ATT -- 1,965.
Alan Johnson, Saunders Ramsey (5), Jamie Gant (6) and J.B. Tucker. Sean Ruthven, Matt Woods (6), Brent Benefield (8), Rip Warren 8) and Clint Sammons.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.