Doolittle Fans Eight to Earn First Bulldog Victory

Thanks to an outstanding relief performance by Todd Doolittle and clutch hitting by Brad Corley and Craig Tatum, Mississippi State's baseball team defeated UAB, 6-5, at Dudy Noble Field Tuesday night.

"Our pitching has been good at times and our hitting has been good at times, but we needed to put it all together, which I think we did toward the end of the game tonight," said Corley. "Craig was struggling but got the big hit."

Doolittle, who had struck out 12 batters in 9.1 innings coming into the game, struck out 8 straight batters in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings to pick up his first victory of the season. He earned the victory thanks to a 9th inning Craig Tatum line drive over the right fielders head that plated Jeffrey Rea with the winning run.

"(Doolittle) kept them off-balance and had a lot of life on his fastball," said Tatum, MSU's starting catcher. "His curveball was working. (Starting pitcher) Eric Ebers doesn't throw very hard, so when Doolittle came in I guess they had been used to soft stuff and he was throwing gas."

Mississippi State (15-8) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Jeffrey Rea led off the inning with a single, then stole second base. After the next two batters were called out on strikes, Brad Corley knocked in Rea with a single. Brad Jones singled to move Corley to second. A base hit by Joseph Hunter knocked in Corley for MSU's second run of the inning.

The Bulldogs added another run in the bottom of the second when Jeffrey Rea reached base on an error, scoring Tyler Scarbrough, who started the inning with a double to left field.

UAB (14-10) finally touched Ebers for two runs in the top of the 4th inning on back to back home runs by Daniel Hill and Nathan McCorkle to make the score 3-2.

In the top of the 5th, UAB tied the game on a leadoff double by Dan Stucky and a run-scoring single by Josh Miljavec. Ebers got out of the inning with no other runs scoring with a popup and a double play.

In the bottom of the 5th inning, Bulldog right-fielder Brad Corley, after getting on with a single, scored after the pitcher threw the ball away trying to throw out Hunter at first base.

MSU wouldn't keep the lead very long, however.

UAB stormed back in the top of the 6th inning to take their first lead of the game. McCorkle led off the inning with a walk. After advancing to second base on a wild pitch, McCorkle scored on a single to left field by Matt Womble. Womble moved to second base when MSU threw the ball to the plate trying to throw out McCorkle. Rodriguez knocked Womble in with a single to right field. Todd Doolittle, after replacing Ebers on the mound, got the next two hitters on a double play and a groundout to shortstop to end the scoring threat.

MSU came right back in their portion of the inning to tie the game back up. Steve Gendron singled to left field, then stole second base. With two outs, Brad Corley singled Gendron in to tie the game.

Meanwhile, UAB could do nothing with Doolittle, who struck out the side in the 7th and 8th innings. After striking out the first two batters in the top of the 9th - his 7th and 8th strikeout in a row - an error by the third baseman put a man on first. The next batter hit a grounder to third that was once again errored. The runner, attempting to score on the throwing error, was thrown out at home plate by first baseman Brad Jones to end the inning.

"The hustle play by Brad Jones probably won the ballgame for us," said Polk.

MSU quickly ended the game in the bottom of the 9th inning with a Craig Tatum one-out, run-scoring drive over the head of the right-fielder, scoring Rea, who started the inning with a single up the middle.

"Craig Tatum hadn't had good hacks (at the ball) all night," said Polk. "I told him after the last (at bat) that he had to shorten up a little bit and soften his stride. If he did, then he had a chance to win the game for us. Sure enough, he came up and hit the ball good."

Junior college transfer Todd Doolittle picked up the victory, his first of the season, after coming in for starter Ebers in the top of the 6th innings. He allowed no runs or hits, while striking out 8 in 4 innings of work.

MSU, which had 13 hits on the night, was led at the plate by Corley's 3-for-4 night and 2 RBI. Rea, Gendron, Hunter and Scarbrough also had two hits apiece.

"I have been struggling the past two weeks so I was coming out just trying to hit the ball hard," said Corley. "After this weekend at LSU, my confidence was up because I don't think I struck out once."

UAB was led at the plate by Miljavec and Moran, both of whom had 2 hits apiece.

Mississippi State hosts Louisiana-Monroe Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. Expected to start for the Bulldogs is freshman right-hander Josh Johnson.


Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports and Mississippi high school sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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