Burkley's first home run was a two-run shot off LTU starter Adam Kirkendall that helped MSU take a 3-0 lead in the first inning. "I thought Kirkendall was very good," said Polk. "He is the guy who defeated three SEC schools last year."
Tech plated a run in the first and opened a game-tying two-run burst in the third inning with a solo home run by Michael Hall. It was the first of four bases-empty blasts by Tech's Bulldogs, who claimed a 6-3 lead and chased MSU starter Jeff Lacher from the game in the fourth on the strength of solo shots by Ryan Jackson, Wade Robinson and Cullen Simmons.
"Jeff Lacher gave up a lot of well-hit balls," Polk said. "He just made some bad pitches and they probably got a couple of balls out of the ball park that probably would not have been out of our ball park. He just couldn't repeat pitchers, get two fastballs or breaking balls together. But he will be ok."
MSU chipped away, scoring a run in the fifth and pulling even at 6-6 with two runs in the sixth on Chad Henry's second double of the game. "I saw Chad during the fall and thought this guy is too good of an athlete and defensive player not to play somewhere," commented Polk.
In the bottom of the sixth inning LTU regained the lead at 7-6 when Robinson, who finished the game with a triple, a home run and a pair of doubles, doubled and plated the go ahead run off MSU relief man Robby Goodson.
Chris Cowles (0-2) replaced Tech starting pitcher Kirkendall in the seventh, and retired two of the first three batters he faced. But State sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning, collecting eight hits and scoring seven runs. Matthew Maniscalco opened the scoring spree with a bases-loaded, two-out, two-run single. "If he doesn't do that, then we might still be playing out there," said Polk. He finished the game with a career-best four hits.
Jonathan Papelbon (1-0) worked the final four frames for the Bulldogs, matching a career-high with seven strikeouts while shutting out Tech on two hits. "Papelbon came in and did what you needed to do and that was throw strikes," said Polk.
All nine starters in the Bulldog batting order had hits as MSU pounded out a season-high 16 hits against five LTU pitchers. "I think the last two games gives me some hope that we will be a better offensive team than a lot of people have given us credit for," said Polk about the hitting performance of his team the past two games.
MSU 14, LOUISIANA TECH 7
MSU 300 012 800 --- 14-16-0
Louisiana Tech 102 301 000 --- 7-15-3
WP --- Jonathan Papelbon (1-0). LP --- Chris Cowles (0-2). HR -- Burkley 2 (2), Robinson (2), Hall (5), Simmons (5), Jackson (4). T - 3:13. ATT --- 317.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.