MSU shut out by USC, 3-0

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Southern California starter Bobby Paschal and three USC relief pitchers held No. 17 Mississippi State (9-2) to seven hits Saturday at Dudy Noble Field en route to a 3-0 shutout win over the Bulldogs. With the win the Trojans (7-9) clinched the three-game series National Bank of Commerce series, which concludes Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Paschal threw 6-2/3 innings of five-hit baseball and the USC bullpen then held MSU scoreless the remainder of the game, marking the first Bulldog shutout since a season-ending 5-0 loss to Florida in the 2002 Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Bulldogs dropped their second straight game after opening the season with a nine-game win streak.

"Their pitcher (Paschal) is that team's ace," MSU coach Ron Polk said. "The Southern Cal coaches felt he was their best pitcher going into the season. Even though he didn't have great numbers last season, you saw today how dominating a pitcher he can be. He had a good mix of pitches and we had a tough time catching up to the breaking ball. We left 12 runners on base again after leaving 10 on last night (in a 5-4 loss to Southern Cal)."

Southern Cal touched MSU starter Jeff Lacher (2-1) for one run in the first inning and two more scores in the second inning. After that, things moved briskly as Southern Cal closed the deal on their second shutout of the season.

"We didn't have the ball bounce our way today," said Lacher, who lost his first start in two seasons. "We didn't get the timely hits and I struggled early on. After the first couple of at-bats, I was able to settle down, but we weren't able to get the runs back."

In the Southern Cal first inning, Joey Metropoulos and Jeff Clement roped back-to-back doubles for a 1-0 lead. An inning later, Daniel Perales started things with a single to left field. Jon Brewster followed with a single up the middle. A sacrifice bunt and a strikeout, Michael Moon blooped a single to left field for a pair of runs.

"We had two-out hits today," Southern Cal coach Mike Gillespie said. "We have struggled this year with men on base. Today, we got the solid pitching to go with a couple of key hits. That has been the difference in each of these games."

The early offense would be more than enough for the USC pitching staff. Paschal struck out five and walked three while scattering five hits. Clayton Wentworth followed in relief. Josh Rummonds then worked the Trojans out of a tight spot in the eighth inning and Bret Butler did the same in the ninth inning for his second save. For the game, the Bulldogs stranded 12 base runners and hit into one double play.

Lacher matched his career-longest start with eight innings of work. The senior from Hattiesburg, Miss., struck out five and walked two while allowing nine hits.

Freshman Jon Crosby struck out two while working a perfect ninth inning for the Bulldogs.

Joseph Hunter had a single and double for MSU, while Steve Gendron had two singles. Jeffrey Rea extended his current hit streak to a team-best eight games with a single, while Brad Corley saw his steak snapped at 10 games with an 0-for-5 outing.

Moon, Perales and Brewster each had multiple hits for the Trojans.


USC (7-9) 120 000 000 - 3 10 2
MSU (9-2) 000 000 000 - 0 7 0

WP-Paschal (2-3). LP-Lacher (2-1). 2B-Metropoulos, Clement, Hunter. T-2:35. A-3,185 (6,524).

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