"Maybe, it's the baseballs," joked MSU coach Ron Polk. "We didn't show any power in the fall or in our spring scrimmage games. Of course, the wind has been blowing out this year. Still, the home runs have caught us all by surprise."
LaNinfa hit a two-run home run during the MSU fourth inning. Thomas Berkery also had an RBI-single in that at-bat as MSU opened a 4-0 advantage. Through five games, LaNinfa, a red-shirt freshman from Venice, Fla., has a team-best 11 RBIs. He homered in each of State's first three games during the MSU Challenge.
"We are off to a good start," LaNinfa said. "Right now, we are swinging the bats really well. Hopefully, the offense will continue. We can only build on what we've done so far."
MSU pounded out 13 hits against MVSU, marking the fifth straight game the Bulldogs have had 12 or more hits in a game this season. Hunter, Brad Corley, Jeffrey Rea, Berkery and Michael Rutledge each had multiple hits for MSU. Hunter finished with a game-high four RBIs.
Gendron hit a solo home run in the fifth inning, his first long ball of the year, while Hunter launch a three-run insurance shot in the eighth inning.
The offense was more than enough for former Caledonia (Miss.) High School standout Josh Johnson. In his second outing of the season and his first career start, Johnson (1-0) pitched a staff season-high six innings, checking MVSU on four hits to earn his first MSU win. Jon Crosby, Eric Ebers and Corley each threw one inning in relief.
"I was less nervous pitching today," Johnson said. "Still, there is a lot more pressure on you when it's 0-0. I got tired late and lost some of my velocity. All in all, I was pleased because it was a good outing."
For the Delta Devils, Dee Hornesburger and Nathan Purvis accounted for five of MVSU's six hits.
"Our pitching staff has thrown strikes," Polk said. "We are asking for several newcomers to step in and contribute. It's good to get these young guys the work."
Jermaine Shack (2-1) worked into the fifth inning and took the loss. Steve Acuna, Chad Williams, Jonathan Stovall and Andrew Cunha pitched in relief. The Bulldogs host Tennessee Tech this weekend. The teams play at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 9, MISSISSIPPI VALLEY 1
Mississippi Valley 000 001 000 --- 1-6-1 (6-3)
Mississippi State 100 311 03X --- 9-13-1 (5-0)
WP - Josh Johnson (1-0). LP - Jermaine Shack (2-1). HR - Joseph Hunter (1), Steve Gendron (1), Brian LaNinfa (4). Time - 2:29. ATT - 1,002 (actual), 5,746 (paid).