"We scored some runs early," MSU coach Ron Polk said. "We didn't do much in the middle innings. We actually had three runs in the first inning without many hard-hit balls. At the same time, we did some nice things at the plate and had another big day."
Rea, a former Nettleton (Miss.) High standout, is fitting nicely into the Bulldogs' lineup - playing second base and batting leadoff.
"I'm beginning to get comfortable with the college game," Rea said. "In some areas, there is not a lot of difference. The guys have made it easy. Offensively, we are scoring some runs right now. The confidence level has gotten better each game this season."
Again, MSU had a big first inning, scoring three times in the first, helped along by the wildness of Tennessee Tech freshman starting pitcher Justin Fields (0-1). After game-opening opening singles by Rea and Steve Gendron, Brad Corley reached as a hit batsman to load the bases. A bases-loaded walk to Jon Mungle, a fielding error and a run-producing ground ball spotted Gant to a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs then blew open the contest with five runs in the fifth inning. A two-run double by Gendron was the big blow in the inning. Thomas Berkery and Rea also had RBI-singles in that inning. Tech starter Fields worked into the fifth inning before Gendron's hit expanded the MSU lead to 8-0.
"It helps the pitchers a whole lot when you see run support like that," Gant said. "Offensively, we are playing with a lot of confidence right now. We've scored a lot of runs early in games and that gives a pitching staff a lot of confidence."
Tech erased the shutout an inning later when J.D. Druckenmiller doubled and later scored on a Brandon Selvog sacrifice fly.
A four-run eighth inning by MSU closed out the scoring. A two-run single by Tyler Jones - his second hit in the game - was the big blow in that inning.
"Right now, our pitchers are throwing strikes," Polk said. "Fortunately, we've been scoring some runs. The pitchers just have to throw strikes and come after batters. This is a good weekend test for us heading into South Alabama and Southern Cal next week."
Gendron and Corley each joined Rea and Tyler Jones as multiple hitters, extending their season-opening hitting streaks to all six games.
Gant (2-0) allowed a run on two hits in six innings of work with a career-high seven strikeouts. Brett Cleveland, Jon Crosby and Saunders Ramsey each threw one inning and combined to give the bullpen three shutout innings. MSU pitching combined to check TTU on two hits.
Kevin Cizmarik, Zach Gray and Derrick Shaver threw in relief for the Golden Eagles. Selvog and Druckenmiller had the lone hits for Tech.
The Bulldogs and Tennessee Tech close their weekend series with a 1:30 p.m. start Sunday. State senior Jeff Lacher (1-0, 5.40) is expected to work opposite Matthew Edwards (0-0, 0.00) in Sunday's series finale.
MSU then closes its season-opening 12-game homestand with midweek games against South Alabama Tuesday and Wednesday and a three-game series next weekend against Southern California in the fourth annual National Bank of Commerce Classic.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 12, TENNESSEE TECH 1
Tennessee Tech 000 001 000 ‹ 1-2-1
Mississippi State 300 050 04x ‹ 12-15-1
WP-Gant (2-0). LP-Fields (0-1). 2B-Druckenmiller, Gendron, B. Jones. T-2:38. A-2,480 (6,094 paid).