MSU 8, Tennessee Tech 0

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Right-hander Jeff Lacher and three relief pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout Sunday afternoon as No. 24 Mississippi State (7-0) completed a weekend sweep of Tennessee Tech (0-4) with an 8-0 win before 2,140 fans at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs topped the Golden Eagles 12-1 Saturday.

Lacher (2-0), a senior from Hattiesburg, faced the minimum 18 batters in his six innings of work, allowing two hits while striking out five. The Bulldogs' sixth and seventh double plays of the season erased both Tech hitters.

Brad Corley, Mike Valentine and Todd Doolittle each worked a scoreless inning in relief to preserve the team's second shutout of the campaign. A walk issued by Corley meant the MSU pitching staff only faced 28 batters in the contest. Through seven games, the MSU bullpen has allowed five runs (four earned) in 25 1/ 3 innings of work.

"Our pitching has proven to be a strong point," MSU coach Ron Polk said. "The pitchers are throwing strikes. The defense is making plays. We had some question marks going into the season but we have had several new pitchers step up and throw well."

The MSU offense only managed seven hits, the first time this season the Bulldogs had fewer than 12 hits in a contest.

Still, Corley and Steve Gendron extended their season-opening hit streaks to seven games apiece. Jeffrey Rea also ran his current hit streak to five games.

"We have a lot of players playing with confidence," Gendron said. "We have some players playing at new positions, it was just a matter of the new team coming together. Offensively, we have had some big innings and that has helped us win these games."

That held true Sunday as well. The Bulldogs did not score in the first inning for the first time this season. MSU did make amends for that with a two-run second inning and a six-run burst in the fourth inning.

In the second inning, Brad Jones hit an RBI-single and Butts followed with a run-scoring triple. The triple was one of four extra-base hits for the Bulldogs.

The other extra-base hits, all doubles, came in the fourth inning. Joseph Hunter opened the inning with a double, Gendron followed with a run-scoring two-bagger and Rea drove in a pair with his double.

Of the MSU seven hits, two came in the second inning and the other five came in the fourth inning.

"The pitching staff has really done the job so far this season," Butts said. "Offensively, we are doing a good job of timely hits. Coach (Polk) wanted more line drives this season and we are doing a better job of making contact."

Tech starter Matthew Edwards (0-1) was chased in the fourth inning. Former MSU pitcher Collins Hughes and Ben Pincus worked in relief for the Golden Eagles. Singles by Chris Gant and Nathan Marty were the lone hits for Tech.

Through seven games, the MSU offense is hitting .375 as a team. The MSU pitching staff has a team earned run average of 1.57.

"The exhibition season is basically over," Polk said. "I'm proud for the guys that we are 7-0. The competition level is going to get better in a hurry."

MSU hosts South Alabama at 4 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Wednesday and entertains Pac Ten Conference power Southern Cal in a three-game weekend set in the fourth annual NBC Classic.

Tennessee Tech (0-4) 000 000 000 - 0 2 0
Mississippi State (7-0) 020 600 00x - 8 7 1
WP-Lacher (2-0). LP-Edwards (0-1). 2B-Rea, Gendron, Hunter. 3B-Butts. T-2:05. A-2,140 (6,068 paid).

Gene's Page Top Stories