The 14-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (34-15-1, 15-11 SEC) lost another heartbreaker to the Georgia Bulldogs (28-23, 10-17 SEC) with a 15th inning 9-8 loss. The Bulldog squandered a 6th inning 7-0 lead."> The 14-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (34-15-1, 15-11 SEC) lost another heartbreaker to the Georgia Bulldogs (28-23, 10-17 SEC) with a 15th inning 9-8 loss. The Bulldog squandered a 6th inning 7-0 lead.">

MSU Squanders a 7-0 Lead, Loses to Georgia 9-8

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/coaches/baseball/polkinbox.jpg" align="left" width="120" height="179"> The 14-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (34-15-1, 15-11 SEC) lost another heartbreaker to the Georgia Bulldogs (28-23, 10-17 SEC) with a 15th inning 9-8 loss. The Bulldog squandered a 6th inning 7-0 lead.

"It is disappointing that we squandered a seven-run lead, but Georgia fought back, played hard, and was playing at home," said the obviously disappointed MSU coach Ron Polk. "We had some opportunities, as they did. The road's tough. The Georgia Bulldogs have had pretty good success at home."

MSU, with a 7-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning and starting pitcher Jeff Lacher throwing a no-hitter, seemingly had the game well in hand.

However, from that point on, Georgia started coming back. After scoring a run against Lacher in the 6th inning, Georgia started off the 7th against Lacher with a single and a run-scoring double. Before the inning was over, Georgia scored another run on an error to make the score 7-3 MSU.

Polk then brought reliever in Brian Owens to start the 8th inning.

"He was gassed out because it was a little humid today," said Polk of his decision to take Lacher out.

Owens, after getting the first batter to fly out, ran into a little trouble, hitting a batter and allowing a single. After Owens struck out Mitchell, Coach Polk, playing the percentages, replaced the left-handed Owens with right-handed sidearmer Saunders Ramsey. Ramsey was greeted with a 2-RBI double by McClain to make the score 7-5. Closer Jonathan Papelbon was brought in to replace Ramsey and got the third out of the inning on a popup by Sammons.

Carrying a 7-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth, MSU continued with Papelbon on the mound. Georgia, with a man on first and two outs, rallied to tie the score with a double by Smith and a single by Coffey. Both fly balls were within inches of being caught by MSU's outfielders. Papelbon, after walking the next two batters, got McClain to line out to second base for the final out of the inning.

Both teams threaten the next few innings, but neither scored until Mississippi State regained the lead in the 14th inning on an RBI double by Jon Mungle.

However, Georgia, one of the top hitting teams in the SEC, came right back in their half of the inning and knotted the score.

After leading off the inning with a double, a passed ball allowed the runner to move to 3rd base. Then, the next batter hit a sacrifice fly to knock in the tying run. No further damage was done by Georgia in the inning.

In the bottom of the 15th, Georgia got runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. MSU appeared to be about to get out of the inning when the Georgia batter hit a grounder toward short that was a tailored-made double play ball. However, with a pickoff move on between shortstop Matthew Maniscalco and catcher Craig Tatum, Maniscalco had started running toward second base a tad early, allowing the ball to go through the infield for a game-winning base hit.

"Tatum and Manny had a pick on at second base," said Polk. "And Manny broke a little early from what appeared to be a double play ball. They had a pick on and that's fine. If they think they have a chance to get the out at second base, that's fine, but you have to wait until the ball passes the batter."

MSU used six pitchers in the game, including starter Lacher and relievers, Owens, Ramsey, Papelbon, Gant and Goodson.

"We turned the ball over to the guys who have been pitching very well for us," said Polk. "I would have liked to have kept Gant (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 SO, 1 BB) in there a little longer, but he threw 53 pitches yesterday. And we didn't want to burn him out. I thought that Robby (Goodson) (2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 SO, 1 BB) came in and did a pretty good job."

MSU was led at the plate by Jeff Butts with 4 hits in 7 at-bats. Tatum and Maniscalco had two hits apiece.

Mississippi State's closes out the regular season with six straight home games, two in a day-night double header on Tuesday, a single game Wednesday and a three-game SEC series against Alabama next weekend.


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 swindoll@genespage.com.


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