MSU Takes Two With 9-3 Win

Mississippi State (36-15-1), after defeating Southeastern Louisiana 13-2 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader, once again used solid pitching, along with good hitting and fielding, to win the night cap 9-3 over a good Winthrop (32-20).

"We got two good performances out of boys that were well rested," said MSU coach Ron Polk of his team's double-header sweep. "(Game 1 winner) Jacob (Blakeney) hasn't pitched much because of his shoulder. (Game 2 winner) Todd (Nicholas) hasn't pitched very much since LSU."

Sophomore left-hander Todd Nicholas (5-2) threw 5.1 innings, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits, 4 walks, while striking out 4. Todd threw 95 pitches, 56 of which were strikes.

"Todd had a rough first inning and fifth inning, but other than that, he was hitting his spots and throwing the ball hard," said MSU redshirt freshman Craig Tatum. "He threw real good tonight. He was on a pitch count, so when he got up around 90 pitches they took him out."

Like the first game, the MSU hitters jumped on the starting pitcher early, scoring 6 runs in the first three innings.

After seeing Winthrop jump out to a 1-0 lead in the first due to three of Nicholas' four walks and a wild pitch, the Bulldogs hitters responded with a one-run first themselves.

With one out, Jeff Butts started it off with a single to right center. Steve Gendron advanced him to third with a single through the right side of the infield. Matthew Brinson grounded out to the pitcher, knocking in Butts. Craig Tatum flied out to end the threat.

Mississippi State took the lead for good in the second inning when they scored two runs. Brad Corley, with one out, singled to left center. Jon Mungle walked, putting men on first and second with one out. After a fly ball and a wild pitch put men on second and third, Matthew Maniscalco doubled to left field, knocking in both runners to give MSU a 3-1 lead going into the top of the third.

Nicholas, now with a two-run lead to work with, shut the Winthrop hitters down in the third and fourth.

MSU's hitters, however, weren't through. In the bottom of the third, they added three more runs to their lead. Gendron and Brinson started the inning off with two singles. Tatum then hit a 1-2 pitch for a three-run home run to left field, expanding MSU's lead to 6-1.

"I swung at a pitch up," said Tatum of his home run. "I have probably struck out on that pitch twenty times this year. I finally got one."

In the top of the fifth Winthrop dented the scoreboard again with two runs. Kyle Roberson and Matt Matkovich led the inning off with a single and double, the double knocked in Roberson. After the next batter grounded out to shortstop, David Scoggin hit a run-scoring double down the left field line to make the score 6-3.

Winthrop once again threaten in the top of the sixth with men on first and second with one out, but Polk brought in reliever Saunders Ramsey who got the next two batters to ground out and fly out to end the inning with no runners scoring.

Mississippi State added three more runs in the bottom of the eight on a Maniscalco single, a Butts single and a sacrifice fly by Gendron.

Meanwhile, Ramsey continued his effective pitching, shutting down Winthrop in the 7th, 8th and 9th on no hits and one walk, while striking out four to earn his 1st save of the year.

Ramsey threw 3.2 innings, allowing no runs on no hits, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts.

"Saunders came in and closed it for us," said Tatum of Ramsey's first save-earning performance. "He threw real good."

Winthrop's starting pitcher, Thomas Olejniczak threw 7 innings, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits, 3 walks and 2 strikeouts. He is now 2-2 on the season.

Winthrop, with their game against MSU, has now played three SEC teams this year, going 1-1 against Georgia and 0-3 against LSU.

Jeff Butts led MSU at the plate with a 4-for-5 game and 1 RBI. Maniscalco, Gendron and Corley had multi-hit games with 2 hits apiece. Maniscalco and Tatum led the Bulldogs with 3 RBI each.

"The whole team played well tonight," said Mississippi State freshman outfielder Jeff Butts. "It all kind of came together. Everybody seemed to be having a lot of fun. We kind of needed that after this weekend."

During the two games, Butts went 6-for-9 with with 3 RBI and Gendron was 5-for-7 with 4 RBI.

Although Butts has swung the ball well since taking over for the injured Joseph Hunter in center field, Hunter could be ready for this weekend's series against Alabama. Coach Polk talked about that during the post-game press conference.

"(Joseph Hunter) dry swung yesterday and took some cuts in the (batting) range today," said Polk. "Tomorrow, in (batting practice) I want to look at him. Thursday, watch him in practice. Alabama has two left-handers and I would like to have Hunter, but it's like spring training, he hasn't swung a bat in a game for three weeks. We can't expect him to feel very comfortable after not playing for three weeks. Those left-handers are tough and we need as many right-handers in the lineup as we can get."

Polk also talked about who he will pitch in Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. game against Winthrop.

"We will go with (redshirt freshman righthander) Brett Cleveland tomorrow," said Polk. "(He's) another youngster who hasn't pitched very much. This will give him another opportunity to get his feet wet."

WU 100 020 000 --- 3-8-1
MSU 123 000 03X --- 9-12-0

WP --- Todd Nicholas (5-3). LP --- Thomas Olejniczak (2-2). HR --- Craig Tatum (5). T ---- 2:44. ATT --- 1,798 (actual), 5,575 (paid).

Todd Nicholas, Saunders Ramsey (6) and Craig Tatum. Thomas Olejniczak, Danny bean (8), Jon Wilson (8) and Chris Leroux.

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 You can contact him by emailing

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