"I wanted to get the bragging rights until next time," said Goodson. "In the back of my mind I thought he would throw me a curve ball on 1-1, but I don't really look for curve balls, I just got under it."
Paul Maholm settled in after giving up 2 early runs on just four hits and almost 40 pitches. In true Maholm fashion, he was able to work out of trouble in the fourth inning after giving up back to back singles. A fielder's choice would send the runners to second and third with Starkville Academy product Travis Garner coming to the plate. Garner had already hit safely for the 17th straight game, with a RBI double in the second inning. Garner laced a liner into left scoring one run, but Jon Mungle's accurate throw held the runner at third. Maholm would get Adam Pavkovich to fly out bringing Beau Hearod, the SEC home run leader, to the plate. Hearod would fight off pitch after pitch before Maholm would strike him out, ending the inning.
Ron Polk's adjusted lineup had Matthew Maniscalco leading off followed by Steve Gendron, Matthew Brinson, Craig Tatum in the clean up spot, Brad Corley, and the big DH, Goodson. The top six in the order went 15-for-29 with 8 RBI and 11 runs scored. This was the offensive breakout game the Diamond Dawgs have been waiting for all season.
"We've struggled lately with two outs and runners in scoring position, but tonight we really got it done," said Maniscalco. "The way (Robby) is going, he could carry us on his back. He established himself last year as the DH and he didn't have a good fall. He just waited his turn and he knew we would need him down the stretch. Now look what he's doing. He's a great team player.
"It seems like everybody is hitting the ball right now," said Corley. "Robby's been crushing the ball lately.
"We didn't pitch as well tonight, but the offense came through and maybe we can keep the bats swinging like we did tonight," said Goodson.
Maholm's 109-pitch, 6-inning night was one of his best when the Dawgs needed their ace to come through. He gave up 5 runs on 12 hits, walked 1 and struck out 10.
"You have to tip your hat to Alabama, they got a lot of their runs with two strikes or two outs, they put the ball in play," said Maholm. "Sometimes I threw it in there and they hammered it, sometimes I would throw the pitch I wanted and they would swing and miss."
Goodson would pick up another RBI in the third inning scoring Brinson. Jeff Butts would collect one his two RBI with a sacrifice fly to left field increasing the Bulldog lead to 4-2.
The Crimson Tide would pick up a run in the fourth inning to close the gap to one, at 4-3. Tatum would pick up his second RBI of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning driving in Maniscalco, who finished his night 3-6 with 2 runs scored.
But it was the sixth inning when the Bulldogs really broke out the bats and batted around the order on the way to scoring 5 runs off Tankersley and putting away the Tide for good. Maniscalco led off the inning with a single to center and scored on Tatum's fielder's choice grounder that was bobbled by second basemen Allen Rice. Goodson's seeing eye single over the head of the shortstop, Pavkovich, scored 2 more runners, giving Goodson his ninth RBI in his last three games. Butts hit a 2 strike single through the gap between first and second scoring Corley, giving the Dawgs a four run cushion at 9-5.
Tankersley would get the hook after 114 pitches and be replaced by righthander Eric Mennen (1-0 6.75). Goodson would score on a Mennen wild pitch bumping the score to 10-5.
The Bulldogs would pick up another run in the seventh for Jamie Gant. The superfrosh pitched the final three innings picking up the save.
Maholm betters his record to 8-2 and Tankersley falls to 6-4.
LSU wrapped up the regular season SEC crown for the first time since 1997, with an 11-3 victory at Arkansas Friday night. So now, if the Dawgs sweep Alabama, they should be a three seed in the conference tournament which would put them in game one, Wednesday, May 21st, at 10 a.m. against the number six seed.
Saturday's 2 p.m. start will see MSU sophomore Alan Johnson (5-2, 4.00) face Alabama sophomore lefty Brent Carter (8-5, 3.28). In pregame ceremonies, Mississippi State will salute its five senior players and two senior managers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 11, ALABAMA 8
ALA 110 111 030 --- 8-14-1
MSU 022 105 10x --- 11-18-0
WP --- Paul Maholm (8-2). LP --- Taylor Tankersley (6-4). SV --- Jamie Gant (1). HR --- (MSU) Robby Goodson (1), (UA) Adam Pavkovich (9). T --- 3:12. ATT --- 6,756 (paid), 4,802 (actual).
Paul Maholm, Jamie Gant and Craig Tatum. Taylor Tankersley , Eric Mennen, Jeffrey Norris.
Brian Emory, a Mississippi State student, is a writer for Gene's Page. If you would like to contact him, his email address is email@example.com>.