Jacksonville State is coached by former Mississippi State assistant coach Jim Case. He is assisted by former MSU assistant coach Matt Ishee.
The Bulldogs, now 4-1-1 on the season, scored four runs on four hits in the first off Gamecocks starter Steve Shippey (1-3) and added three more in the third on consecutive home runs by Matthew Brinson, Jason Burkley, and Jon Mungle. That was the first time MSU batters have hit three home runs consecutively since a game against Memphis March 30, 1989. Richie Grayum, Pete Young and Tommy Raffo were the Diamond Dogs who did it back then.
Mississippi State finished off Jacksonville State with a three-run, three-hit fourth inning, making the score 10-1 at that time.
While Mississippi State's bats were lighting up the field, senior right-hander Tanner Brock (2-0), coming into the game allowing a batting average of .048, struck out seven and held Jacksonville State to three hits in a seven-inning mound appearance.
"I felt very comfortable out there today," said Brock. "I try to keep the same approach every week. I take the same gameplan out there every game."
Brock has now allowed four hits in thirteen innings. He has struck out fourteen and walked five. His ERA stands at 0.70 and teams are now hitting .093 against him.
"Tanner is a senior and has been around five years," said Polk. "We expect him to be good. He is a leader for us."
The Gamecocks would make the final score respectable by tallying five of their eight hits and four of their six runs in the eighth, three on a bases-clearing double by Travis Suereth.
Matthew Maniscalco, Chad Henry and Steve Gendron had three hits each and Brinson, who was 2-of-4 during the game, matched a career-best with four RBI to lead Bulldog hitters.
Starkville native Saunders Ramsey, a freshman, and Allen Buckley, a junior, made their first mound appearances for the Bulldogs.
"Saunders competed well in the fall," said Polk. "He is a very nice kid and a great student. We have had kids like him such as Jon Harden and Terry Ellis, neither of whom pitched much their first couple of years. I'm not saying that he is going to be in that category, but he is the type of guy who will battle. He is not going to pitch a lot this year because we have so many guys ahead of him, but he could be a factor for us next year if he continues to get better."
MSU 11, JACKSONVILLE STATE 6
JSU 010 001 104 6-9-4
MSU 403 300 10x 11-16-2
WP --- Tanner Brock (2-0). LP --- Steve Shippey (1-3). HR --- (MSU) Matthew Brinson (2), Jason Burkley (3), Jon Mungle (1). T-2:44. ATT - 5,926 (paid), 1,039 (actual).
[Game 2] STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 23rd ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-1-1) once again pounded Jacksonville State pitchers, piling up a season-high 18 hits in a 14-2 win over the Gamecocks (7-7) in the second game of a doubleheader. MSU and JSU played the doubleheader after having Friday's game canceled because of possible bad weather.
"As of yesterday afternoon, I didn't give us any hope of playing at all yesterday or today," said MSU coach Ron Polk. "Now they are predicting it will be 35 to 36 degrees with a wind-chill factor in the mid-20's Sunday."
JSU would get on the scoreboard first by taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning off MSU starter Paul Maholm (1-1). However, that lead would be short-lived as the Bulldogs tallied four runs on four hits in the bottom of the first. One of the hits was a Jason Burkley home run, his second of the day and fourth of the season. He currently leads the SEC in home runs.
"We knew Jason was capable of hitting home runs for us," said MSU first-game starting pitcher Tanner Brock.
Maholm registered a staff season-high 11 strikeouts, scattered six hits and walked one in six innings of mound work. He now has 16 strikeouts in 10.2 innings of work and lowered his pre-game ERA of 5.79 to 3.37.
"I felt pretty good out there," said Maholm. "Last week I wasn't in sync with everything, but I worked hard all week and came out today trying to get ahead of every batter."
Robby Goodson worked two innings of no-hit, shutout relief and Jacob Blakeney made his MSU pitching debut in the ninth, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Blakeney's fastball was consistently clocked at 89 mph.
"(Blakeney's performance) was huge," said Polk. "Jacob was ranked very high by the coaches and players during the fall, then he had that very unfortunate break in the knuckle on his throwing hand. I thought that he threw very well and that just gives us more depth in the pitching staff."
Matthew Maniscalco and Matthew Brinson extended their season-opening hitting streaks to all seven games, with Brinson and Jason Burkley delivering three hits each. Burkley belted a two-run home run in the first inning.
MSU's 3-4-5 hitters in the batting order, Brinson, Burkley and Jon Mungle, followed up their three-consecutive home run showing in the opening game with three straight doubles during a four-run, five-hit Bulldog scoring burst in the fourth inning.
"I was very impressed with our offense today," said Polk. "My gosh, we used the entire field well today. We hit a lot of home runs early but I don't think we will be a power-laden ballclub. Power-hitting goes in stages. We aren't going to be the kind of team that will hit 100 home runs. I would like to see us hit 60 to 70 home runs, but I don't know if we will be able to do that."
Mississippi State, as a team, is now batting .345 and have hit 9 home runs on the young season.
Starting pitcher Paul Maholm commented on the hot-hitting of the Bulldog batters. "It helps out a lot because you can go out there a little more relaxed because you have a big lead and don't have to worry about the hitters getting a key hit late in the game."
Heath Comer had a double and a single to lead JSU at the plate. Starter Lucas McCollum (1-2) took the loss and was charged with 10 runs during his four-inning stint on the mound. Bobby Wynns worked the final four frames, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits.
MSU junior lefty Joey Collums (0-0, 3.60) and JSU senior right-hander Jeremy Hudson (1-0, 2.77) are expected to draw starting mound duties in Sunday's series finale. Gametime is set for 1:30 p.m.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 14, JACKSONVILLE STATE 2
JSU 101 000 000 --- 2-6-3
MSU 402 421 01x --- 14-18-2
WP - Paul Maholm (1-1). LP - Lucas McCollum (1-2). HR - Jason Burkley (4). T - 2:51. ATT - 5926 (paid). 1,039 (actual).
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.