"I just wanted to play my role on this team. I've done the Tuesday night thing all year," said Lacher. "Last Sunday I pitched well and Coach Polk gave me the chance to throw again."
Polk said, "Jeff has become a factor for us and we rewarded his great play in mid-week games with a few starts in SEC play."
Lacher threw 51 pitches before the first stoppage of play due to wet conditions. 45 minutes later, when the umpire deemed the field playable, Lacher trotted out to the mound in the fifth inning and promptly retired the side in order.
"I was in the same situation in my first game of the year in Lafayette when we had three rain delays," said Lacher. "But I actually felt better after that break and then getting loose again."P> Lacher retired the first ten Bama batters in a row before Adam Pavkovich lined a single into left field. He then allowed just two hits over the span of the next 13 batters. Alabama picked up their only run off Lacher in the eighth after consecutive singles by Allen Rice and Charlie Lyons and a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. Evan Bush's sacrifice fly scored Rice.
"Coach said we're going to go at them with fastballs," said Lacher. "My two-seamer was getting them to pull off the ball. That produced a lot of ground balls and the lefties were running out of bat and just putting it on the ground. That was my pitch today and we just stuck with it."
Every Bulldog batter had at least one hit except for Brad Corley, who went 0-4 on the day. Matthew Maniscalco went 3-4 with and RBI and two runs scored. Thomas Berkery was 2-3 with three RBI and Joseph Hunter, Matthew Brinson, Jon Mungle and Craig Tatum all had one RBI each, Tatum's coming off his sixth home run of the season.
The Diamond Dawgs torched Alabama starter Seth Johnson for four runs on eight hits. Johnson's replacement, staff ace Brian Reed, fared no better, allowing three runs in an inning and a third.
Maniscalco played his last regular season game at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-Dement Stadium Sunday and was honored by his coaches when Josh Thoms came in to replace him after the first out in the ninth inning. The Bulldog faithful showed their support for the Oxford, Ala. senior, who has started every game in his four-year career, with a long standing ovation.
"I didn't know what was happening," said Maniscalco. "I was just listening to the change and they said Josh Thoms and I thought where is Josh Thoms playing right now. Then I thought, oh man, I didn't want to show up anybody or take any attention. But I appreciate the gesture from the coaches and the fans who stayed here through all of the rain delays and supported me through my four years here in Starkville."
Also being honored on Senior Day were Jacob Blakeney, Steven Dowe, Brian Owens and Joey Collums.
"I didn't think it about too much until I saw my parents and my brothers on the field before the game, then it hit home that this was it, but I believe me and my buddies will be back here," said Maniscalco.
Before possibly coming back to Mississippi State as a host site for an NCAA baseball regional, MSU must first take care of business at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama.
It is not a definite but Coach Polk named the rotation for the tournament.
"We will start Alan Johnson on Wednesday and Paul Maholm and Jeff Lacher after that," said Polk. "We're lucky we haven't had to turn over the pitching staff all year."
SEC Tournament Bracket
MISSISSIPPI STATE 9, ALABAMA 1
ALA 000 000 010 --- 1-5-0
MSU 101 203 20x --- 9-14-0
WP --- Jeff Lacher (6-0). LP --- Seth Johnson (6-5). HR --- (MSU) Craig Tatum (6). T -- 2:47. ATT --- 6,564 (paid), 4,712 (actual). Play was halted for one hour and 16 minutes during separate rain delays in the fourth and seventh innings.
Jeff Lacher, Jonathan Papelbon (8) and Craig Tatum and Thomas Berkery (8). Seth Johnson, Brian Reed (4), Jeffrey Norris (6), Jared Woodward (7) and Charlie Lyons.
Brian Emory, who writes game articles for Gene's Page, is a graduate student at Mississippi State and also a sports writer for the Commercial Dispatch in Columbus, Mississippi. If you would like to contact him, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org>.