Jones Hits For Extra Bases As Dogs Batter Indians

Mississippi State muscled four runners across the plate in the opening inning and coasted through the remainder of the evening to a 9-3 victory over visiting Louisiana-Monroe at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs improved to 21-8 overall with their 17th win out of 19 contests played at home so far.

The Indians fell to 17-16 on their year. State leads the interstate series 22-6 and has won the last five meetings.

The Bulldogs battered Indian pitching for 14 base hits, six of them extra-base knocks including a solo home run by first baseman Brad Jones in the sixth inning. Jones, who came in with a .290 average, had two more extra-base hits for the evening: a two-run triple in the first inning and a RBI-double in the fourth. With the longball he tied for the team lead with catcher Thomas Berkery.

And it was an impressive shot, right over the centerfield wall to the left side of the flagpole. "I never thought I'd hit a ball over that green monster," Jones said. "Since I've been here I can't do it in practice, I don't know how I did it in a game. But I got a good swing on it."

Jones had two other chances to complete the cycle, grounding out to second base in the third inning and striking out swinging in the seventh. "The dang dugout kept me informed that I was only a single away!" Jones said. "So they were messing with me a little bit. It didn't happen, oh well, we won the game." And his nine total bases were a season-best for State.

Two teammates—centerfielder Joseph Hunter and substitute shortstop Michael Rutledge—also hit doubles, and second baseman Jeffrey Rea added a three-bagger to State's total. Rea had a pair of singles to go with that triple and eight Dogs in all hit safely. "It's good just to break out and pound a team a little bit," Jones said.

As far as the moundwork, righthander John Lalor got the Tuesday start and his first outing since March 27. So the freshman was rested and ready to put in his longest stint of the season, with five complete innings. It was a winning effort, too, as Lalor ran his perfect rookie record to 3-0. He allowed two Indian runs on three hits, all singles, while striking out three around two walks.

"I didn't throw as many strikes as I would like," Lalor said. But that might have been due to a long layoff. "I was a little bit nervous because I hadn't thrown in so long, I was trying to overthrow a little bit. But I settled down and they hit the ball at a lot of people."

Lalor had a shutout going through his first four frames. He retired the opening five batters then, as the plate tightened, walked a pair on before stranding them with a groundout. The Indians got a base hit to lead off their third inning and Lalor fanned two batters to negate it.

Not until the fifth did ULM put anything together, and it took a two-out fielding error at second base and wild pitch to get an Indian in scoring position. That brought up the top of the order, and Glenn Jackson and Adam Barfield came through with consecutive singles. Each scored a runner and pulled the Indians within 7-2.

It wasn't enough to keep State from giving other arms needed midweek work, with Brooks Dunn, Brett Cleveland, Mike Valentine, and Saunders Ramsey all tossing a full inning. Dunn was touched for ULM's other score, greeted by an infield single and bloop base hit behind second base that put Indians on the corners.

Dunn settled for rolling a double-play and giving up the last Indian run. Or hit, as ULM only put lone runners on bases in the seventh and ninth via MSU errors.

State got to ULM starter Steve Lawler (1-2) quickly, as Rea singled to open a strong offensive evening. A walk to leftfielder Jeff Butts was erased by a fielder's choice grounder, but Rea and rightfielder Brad Corley were on respective corners. Hunter accounted for MSU's first RBI by bouncing a single through the right side.

That brought up Jones for his first chance and he pounded a ground-ball triple down the first base line and into the corner, scoring Corley and Hunter. Jones scored later on a two-on, one-out grounder from DH Brian LaNinfa and the Bulldogs were ahead 4-0 after one turn at the plate.

Righty Lawler scuffled through the next two innings seven Dogs reaching base, three on hits, and none scoring. That could not last and when Rea led off MSU's fourth with a triple almost identical to Jones' the Indians sent Jared Jennings to the mound. Butts met the righthanded reliever with a sacrifice-fly, and Corley got to second as his liner to the leftfielder was errored off the glove.

Hunter made it hurt with a double to leftfield before Jones dropped his two-bagger into rightfield for a 7-0 lead.

Corley singled with two outs in the MSU fifth to score third baseman Ed Easley from third base, the hit charged to D.J. Fortenberry. The ULM righty also gave up Jones' leadoff shot in the sixth for the final 9-3 count. Ladd Hall and James Stephens tossed an inning each in late work. State's 14 hits were the most since March 26 at Arkansas.

The Bulldogs finish a five-game homestand Wednesday evening by hosting Samford in a 6:30 contest. This weekend finds Mississippi State in inter-Divisional play as they take on Georgia for a weekend SEC series. Lefty Eric Ebers is expected to get Wednesday's start.

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