MSU Loses to North Carolina; Missouri Up Next

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- North Carolina sophomore Greg Mangum's fourth inning grand slam broke open an otherwise close game as the second-seeded Tar Heels rolled over tournament host and top-seeded Mississippi State, 10-5, in a winners bracket contest Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Starkville Regional.

The Bulldogs (41-19-1), who were denied a bid for their 800th victory at Dudy Noble Field with the loss, also saw its home postseason record fall to 32-15 in 10 regionals at the stadium. Mississippi State will move on to Saturday evening's 7 p.m. elimination contest against previously defeated and third-seeded Missouri (36-21) who ousted fourth-seeded Middle Tennessee earlier on Saturday. The undefeated Tar Heels (41-21) advance through to Sunday where they await the winner of Saturday evening's losers bracket contest.

North Carolina starter Adam Kalkhoff was hammered immediately for two runs on three hits and four walks and lasted just five outs of the contest, but reliever Matt Danford (3-1) was golden nearly the rest of the way out, allowing just two uneventful hits through six and one-thirds before being chased in the midst of an MSU rally in the ninth. Starter Alan Johnson (5-5) took the loss for Mississippi State, allowing nine earned runs on seven hits and three walks in four innings of work.

Mangum topped the RBI column for Carolina with his second career home run and first career grand slam, while Chris Iannetta added three more on a 2-for-3 tally with three runs scored. Blair Waggett (2-for-3, 2 R) also added a pair of hits for the Tar Heels. Robby Goodson scored once on a 2-for-3 day to pace the Bulldogs.

"When you get into games like this, it comes down to timely hits and sometimes an unlikely hero," said North Carolina head coach Mike Fox. "We had that today in two big swings of the bat. Matt (Danford) came in and was outstanding for 6-plus innings by throwing a lot of strikes and keeping them off balance.

"We beat a very good team in a tough place. I'm proud of our team for the way we played today."

Mississippi State drew first blood in the contest in the second inning, using Joseph Hunter's RBI double to score Goodson and a sac fly by Jeff Butts that scored freshman Thomas Berkery and gave the Maroon and White a 2-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the inning.

Despite going down in order in each of the first two innings, North Carolina tied the game back up in the bottom of the third on Prosser's two-run double down the left field line, then took the lead on Jeremy Cleveland's RBI groundout to shortstop.

The Tar Heels needed just five at-bats to load the bases in the fourth to set the table for Mangum's blast to right center, then stretched their lead out to eight, 10-2, with three more runs in the fifth on Iannetta's bases loaded double to right center.

The Maroon and White put together a two-out rally in the ninth, scoring pinch hitter Tyler Scarbrough on Matthew Maniscalco's fielder's choice to shortstop, then adding two more on Brad Corley's two-run single to left center.

Official Stats.

POSTGAME QUOTES:

MSU'S ROBBY GOODSON

You got off to a good start but didn't continue it.
"Yeah, I think we got satisfied with knocking their guy out early and we didn't swing the bats well after that."

You came back in the 9th inning. Do you feel that will help you carry some momentum into the next game?
"I sure hope so. We put in some guys who normally don't play and they came in there and looked like they wanted to play more than the guys who were in there. I'm glad we showed some life late."

Brett Cleveland came in and pitch well.
"I'm glad Brett got a chance and he did good. He came in and pitched well for us. He hadn't been asked to do that too much this year. Hopefully, he will have another chance to do that for us this weekend."

With this loss, your backs are against the wall now.
"Yeah, our backs are definitely against the wall. We have three games that we have to win to all of them. Everybody knows that. If we lose, the season is over."

Did you know before the game that Georgia Tech had lost their second game?
"Yeah, we all heard the announcement during the game. That might have caused us to let our guard down a little bit and that we were going to coast through. But we found out that it wasn't going to happen that way."

Talk about North Carolina's reliever, Matt Dandord?
"He shut us down. There isn't much else to say about it. He came in and through strikes. We knocked the other guy out and he came in and got on a roll and never let up."

MSU'S ALAN JOHNSON

You were pitching so well at first, then they had four base hits in a row. What happened during the span?
"Maybe the ump didn't call that many fastballs on the outer half of the plate. I was leaving my slider over the plate. I still felt that I was locating my fastball real well, but you can't just throw a fastball and get away with it."

They really didn't hit you hard. Most seem to just find real estate.
"I thought the grand slam they hit was just a flyball but the wind carried it out. That's just the way things go sometimes."

What did you say that got you a warning from the umpire?
"It was clear that it was a strike. I let him know that it was a strike and he let me know not to do that again. I thought he was going to throw me out. I turned my back and he started walking out to the mound. He just gave me a warning."


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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