MSU 3, USA 2

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Craig Tatum delivered three hits Wednesday afternoon to lead No. 17 Mississippi State (9-0) past South Alabama 3-2 at Dudy Noble Field. The victory lifted the Bulldogs to a two-game series sweep of the defending Sun Belt Conference champion Jaguars (3-10).

Sophomore lefty Brooks Dunn (2-0) earned his second win of the campaign, allowing two runs on seven hits in five innings of work. Freshman Josh Johnson and Saunders Ramsey worked in relief, with Ramsey earning his first save with his second straight 1 2/3 innings of shutout relief. Ramsey earned his first career win in Tuesday's 4-2 Mississippi State victory. He worked out of a tight spot in the ninth inning Wednesday as the Jaguars stranded two runners.

"I feel like I can pitch every day," Ramsey said. "I got to the ballpark and asked Coach Rock (Daron Schoenrock) what I needed to do today and he told me to be ready in relief. My throwing motion is not a lot of wear. So just a little bit of rest and I can go again."

Thanks to the efforts of Johnson and Ramsey, the MSU bullpen has not allowed a run in the last 14 2/3 innings.

"The pitchers are throwing great," Tatum said. "This is the first series where we've been challenged, so it's good to get a couple of wins. We needed these types of games going into the weekend (a home series with Southern California)."

The Bulldogs erased an early 1-0 deficit with two runs in the second inning. It was only the second time this season MSU trailed in a game.

In the second inning, Tatum started things with a single up the middle. After a strikeout, Thomas Berkery followed with a hit. Brad Jones followed with an RBI single to tie the game 1-1. Tyler Scarbrough reached on a fielding error. A groundout by Jeff Butts scored Berkery giving the Bulldogs the lead for good.

An inning later, MSU made it 3-1 on an RBI single by Tatum. USA pulled within 3-2 in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Brad Gordon. After that only two more USA base runners would reach base thanks to a single and walk off Johnson.

"It felt really good to go out there and get a win," Dunn said. "Right now, we are closing in on conference play. That's what everybody is shooting for. Every player wants to make the 25-man (travel roster for SEC games). To do that, you really have to step up and perform in games like this."

Tatum led MSU's nine hit attacks with three singles. Butts was the only other multiple hitter for State as he had a single and double. Brad Corley also singled to run his season-opening hit streak to nine straight games. For USA, Justin Hawarah and Gordon each had two hits and an RBI apiece. Joey Doan (1-2) went the distance on the mound with four strikeouts and one walk, while allowing nine hits and three earned runs.

The Bulldogs have won their first nine games for the first time since the 2000 Bulldogs also opened the season with a similar streak.

"Every midweek win is important," Dunn said. "The magic mark is 40. If you can get to that, you know you will have a regional. If we can play at home in front of our fans, it doesn't matter who the opponent is, we have the upper hand."

The Bulldogs open a three-game series with Pac-Ten Conference power South Cal Friday at 4 p.m. to begin the fourth annual National Bank of Commerce Classic. MSU and USC are scheduled to meet Saturday at 2 p.m. and in a 1:30 p.m. Sunday series finale.

MISSISSIPPI STATE 3, SOUTH ALABAMA 2

USA (3-10) 010 010 000 - 2 8 1
MSU (9-0) 021 000 00x - 3 9 3

WP-Dunn (2-0). LP-Doan (1-2). Sv-Ramsey (1). 2B-Gordon, Touchstone, Butts. T-2:18. A-1,091.


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