State Stays Unbeaten with 5-3 Win Over Tech

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Jeff Butts and Bunky Kateon each pounded out three hits Tuesday afternoon as No. 17 Mississippi State (7-0) remained unbeaten with a 5-3 win over Louisiana Tech (5-13) on a wind-chilled day at Dudy Noble Field.

MSU scored singles runs in the first and third innings and never trailed in the contest. Tech scored in the top half of the fourth inning only to see State answer with two in the home half of the frame. Tech scored twice in the fifth inning to pull within a run at 4-3. But MSU plated a critical insurance score, also in the fifth inning, when Brad Jones hit his first home run of the season.

The Bulldogs complete a season-opening eight-game home stand Wednesday with a 4 p.m. meeting with Jackson State (4-8) at 4 p.m. Bulldog freshman righthander John Lalor is slated to make his collegiate mound debut, while Jackson State had not announced a starter.

"Sometimes you have to find a way to win," Butts said. "It wasn't real pretty but we made enough plays to get the job done."

The teams combined for five errors, three by Tech. MSU struck out a season-high 11 times at the plate. A total of 19 base runners were stranded, with 11 being left by the hosts. Still, all eight runs were earned in the contest.

A sacrifice fly by Brad Corley started MSU's scoring in the first inning. An RBI double by Thomas Berkery ran the lead to 2-0 in the third inning.

An RBI single by Ryan Hamilton placed Tech on the board in the fourth inning.

MSU answered in the fourth inning with a Bunky Kateon double and a run-scoring single by Michael Rutledge.

Joseph McCarthy opened the LTU fifth inning with a double. Mims Boyce and Gary Holik followed with back-to-back bunt singles. Holik's hit scored McCarthy from third and a wild pitch brought Boyce across the plate.

Brooks Dunn pitched the first five innings to record the win. The Birmingham, Ala., junior allowed eight hits and three runs (all earned) and recorded five strikeouts. Jon Crosby and Mike Valentine each pitched two innings of shutout relief, with Valentine garnering his first career save.

"There were stretches where we struggled," Dunn said. "Fortunately, the defense made some plays. We got some timely hitting and got a win."

For Tech, senior righthander Mitch Tucker (0-3) also lasted five innings and took the loss, allowing nine hits and five runs (all earned). Tucker struck out eight and walked one. Ryan Rupert and Brody Love combined for three innings of shutout relief.

The bulldogs played minus two injured regulars. Thomas Berkery replaced Jeffrey Rea (pulled hamstring) at second base and junior outfielder Ryan Fesmire made his first career start in left field after starter Jeff Butts moved to center field in place of regular Joseph Hunter (ankle). Both Rea and Hunter are listed as day-to-day.

After the MSU-Jackson State contest, the Bulldogs hit the road for the first time this season. MSU plays a three-game weekend series at No. 9 Arizona.

MSU 5, Louisiana Tech 3
LTU (5-13) 000 120 000 ‹ 3-11-3
MSU (7-0) 101 210 00x ‹ 5-12-2

WP-Brooks Dunn (2-0). LP-Mitch Tucker (0-3). Sv-Mike Valentine (1). HR-Brad Jones (1). T-2:44. A-836 (5,751)

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