"We were hoping for a little deeper fly ball, but we knew it was going to be a bang-bang play," said Bulldog skipper Ron Polk. "Our guys swung the bats pretty well late in the ball game, and we had a chance to win it. At the same time, Ohio State has a very good baseball team and it's good to play against good competition early in the season."
Brandon Steen, the fourth Buckeye pitcher in the game and the third used in the final two innings, and MSU's third pitcher, Brian Owens, were the pitchers of record at the conclusion of the game.
The Bulldogs (1-1-1) were unable to score against OSU starter Scott Lewis until loading the bases and plating a run in the sixth inning on a two-out infield single by Steve Gendron. State trailed the Buckeyes (3-0-1) 6-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, closing the gap to 6-3 with consecutive solo home runs by J.B. Tucker and Brent Lewis.
In the eighth Tucker walked and Lewis singled to open the rally, and both scored on back-to-back singles by Casey Long and Matthew Maniscalco. An errant pickoff throw at first base by relief pitcher Steen enabled Long to score and Maniscalco to advance to third base, setting the stage for the game-ending double play.
The Bulldogs erupted for nine of their season-high 12 hits in the final three frames, with Chad Henry, Matthew Brinson, Steve Gendron, Brent Lewis and Casey Long registering two-hit performances. Eight players in the Buckeye batting order hit safely, with leadoff hitter Drew Anderson and Joe Wilkins notching two hits apiece.
After giving up a pair of doubles, a triple and three runs in the first two frames, MSU starter Joey Collums held OSU scoreless over his next three innings of mound work. Ohio native Chris Young, who replaced Collums on the mound in the sixth, hit two batters, walked another and allowed three hits during a three-run burst that gave the Buckeyes a 6-1 lead.
Mississippi State hits the road this week for its first road games of the 2002 campaign, visiting Louisiana Tech Tuesday (Feb. 26 - 6 p.m.) and Louisiana-Monroe Wednesday (Feb. 27 - 6:30 p.m.). MSU returns to Dudy Noble Field next weekend to open a seven-game homestand, beginning with a three-game weekend series Mar. 1-3 against Jacksonville (Ala.) State.
OHIO STATE 6, MISSISSIPPI STATE 6
OSU 210 000 30 ---- 6-10-2
MSU 000 001 23 ---- 6-12-2
Game called after eight innings due to OSU travel. WP - None. LP - None. HR - (MSU) J.B. Tucker (1), Brent Lewis (1). TIME: 2:44. ATTENDANCE: 6,255 (paid), 3,006 (actual).