Eight of MSU's nine starters hit safely, accounting for 19 of MSU's season-high 20 hits.
Sophomore second baseman Jeffrey Rea led the MSU hit parade and turned in a career performance at the plate. The Nettleton, Miss., product went 5-for-5 with a walk and drove in three runs. Rea set career highs for both hits and RBI. Rea lashed a two-run single up the middle to put the Bulldogs up 4-3 in the second and later singled in a run in a six-run MSU burst in the fifth. After opening the game with five straight singles, Rea came within a hit of tying the school and SEC record for hits in a game. He drew a seventh inning walk in his final plate appearance.
Junior left fielder Jeff Butts went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two doubles, one a two-run shot in the fifth inning, while Brad Corley laced a pair of two-baggers on a 3-for-5, 2-RBI outing.
EIU starter Kyle Widegren (0-2), after giving up a game-opening single by Rea, set down the next three Bulldogs he faced in the first inning. But the Bulldog bats warmed up in the second frame. Freshman Ed Easley, making his debut as the Bulldogs' starting catcher, doubled in his first career at-bat, while Butts and Corley also legged out doubles in the six-hit barrage. Widegren was charged with six runs on six hits and retired just one of the seven batters he faced in the second inning.
Redshirt freshman Justin Pigott followed Johnson to the hill, allowing a run on two hits in two innings of mound work. Sophomore Jon Crosby (1-0) earned the win with two innings of shutout, two-hit pitching. The Germantown, Tenn., product struck out two and retired six of the eight batters he faced. Trent Hill and Ben Grisham made their collegiate mound debuts with one-inning relief stints in the final two frames.
Prior to the game, State honored former MSU and Major League baseball great Bobby Thigpen, retiring his jersey and adding Thigpen to the collection of past State greats pictured on the outfield "wall of fame" at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs and the Panthers are scheduled to close out their first-ever three-game series with a 12:30 p.m. game Sunday at Dudy Noble Field.
Mississippi State 16, Eastern illinois 6
EIU 212 010 000 - 6-10-0
MSU 070 161 01x - 16-20-2
WP - Jon Crosby (1-0). LP - Kyle Widegren (0-2). T - 3:28. A - 3,305 (6,484 paid)