No. 16 MSU Defeats No. 9 Arizona 13-12

No. 16 Mississippi State (9-2), after losing the first two games of the three-game series, used a ten-run second inning to defeat the No. 9 ranked Arizona Wildcats (14-6), 13-12, at Jerry Kindall Field on the campus of the University of Arizona.

"It is a great win for our kids," said Mississippi State head coach Ron Polk. "And it's a great RPI win because of the nature of the team we played. It is good to play good people before the SEC season."

State started the game off with two runs in the top of the first on a two-run triple by Brad Jones.

Arizona quickly tied the score in their bottom half of the inning on a steal of home and a sacrifice fly.

The Bulldogs jumped on starter Sean Rierson for six of the ten runs that they scored in the top of the second inning. The inning was highlighted by a grand slam home run by true freshman Ed Easley, his first home run of the season.

"Sean Rierson has come off Tommy John surgery and was not as effective as the guys we saw Friday and Saturday," said Polk. "Thankfully, we got an opportuntiy to score a bunch of runs early. And you can see by the final score that we needed everyone of them."

The Wildcats knocked MSU starting pitcher Josh Johnson out of the game with a three-run outburst in the bottom of the second inning.

"The umpire's strike zone was so tight today compared to the last two days," said Polk. "Josh Johnson was not effective and walked four guys with the tight strike zone. Josh needs a little bit of the corner and didn't get any corner today."

Both pitching staffs settled down until the top of the sixth inning when MSU's Jeff Butts knocked in Jeff Rutledge with a two-out single to make the score 13-5.

Arizona then started pecking away.

In the bottom of the sixth, they scored two runs on a two-run double by Trevor Crowe to make the score 13-7.

Arizona's Jason Donald, in the seventh inning, knocked in a run to close the gap to five, 13-8.

Arizona made the game interesting in the bottom half of the eight inning with a four-run rally that was highlighted by a three-run home run by Jeff Van Housten. After the home run was followed by a single, Mississippi State replaced reliever Michael Valentine with closer Saunders Ramsey. Ramsey got the first batter to strike out, then gave up two singles and a walk, which allowed one more run to score to make the score 13-12. With men on second and third, Ramsey finally stopped the threat by getting Rineheart to ground out to second base to end the inning.

Neither team could score in the ninth inning, which allowed Mississippi State to come away with the one-run victory.

MSU reliever Jon Crosby, who allowed two runs on 3 hits in 4.1 innings, earned the victory for the Bulldogs, his second of the season against no losses.

Rierson took the loss for the Wildcats, his second of the season.

MSU centerfielder Joseph Hunter, who had nine hits during the series, was 4-for-5 on the day. "He had a great offensive series and got a lot of hits for us this weekend," said Polk.

Butts, Brad Corley, Jones, Easley and Rutledge all had two hits each. The Bulldogs totaled 16 hits, the most allowed by Arizona pitching this year. The 13 runs were also a season high against Arizona.

Arizona was led at the plate by the 4-for-6 day of Trevor Crowe.

Mississippi State will return home to play the University of Memphis Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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