Dogs top UNO 7-1 to earn series split

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Highlighted by J.B. Tucker's two-run home run, Mississippi State (13-8-1) earned a split with the University of New Orleans (15-10) with a 7-1 win Wednesday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

"It was a good win against a good ballclub. We pitched well, played good defense and got some timely hitting."

After producing five hits against New Orleans' pitching Tuesday night, Mississippi State had nine hits during Wednesday's game. Jason Burkley led the Bulldogs with a 3-for-3 day while Matthew Maniscalco drove in three runs with a pair of doubles.

MSU jumped on New Orleans starting pitcher Brandon Nigues in the first inning. Chad Henry walked, stole second, then scored when Jason Burkley hit a single that the left-fielder misplayed.

New Orleans came right back in the top of the second and threaten to score. MSU starting pitcher Ryan Carroll, making his first career start, loaded up the bases on two walks and a hit after getting the first two hitters out on routine plays. However, Ryan shut the door when he struck out Chandler Rose on a 1-2 pitch.

"I was real excited to give Ryan a chance to get some work in," said MSU pitching coach Daron Schoenrock. "We were hoping at the start of the game that we would get 15 outs from him. I think we ended up getting 10 outs from him. I told him I was very proud of him because he didn't have his great stuff but he kept us in the game."

MSU threaten to get on the scoreboard in the 2nd and 3rd but came up short both times. However, in the fourth inning, Casey Long opened the inning with a single through the middle of the UNO infield and designated hitter J.B. Tucker, on an 0-2 count, followed with his second home run of the season to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. "The home run gave us a spark and got us on a roll," said Tucker. "I hit a slider inside."

Reliever Chris Young, now on the mound for the Bulldogs, set the side down in order in the top of the fifth inning. "Chris Young used his fastball much better today than he has been," said Coach Rock. "He worked in and out a lot better with it."

MSU expanded its lead to 4-0 on consecutive doubles by Burkley and Matthew Brinson to begin the fifth.

MSU came right back in the sixth to expand their lead once again. This time plating a run on a strikeout/wild pitch and an RBI double by Maniscalco. "The double was with two strikes on me," said Maniscalco. "I was just trying to put the ball in play. Luckily, it found a hole."

Three consecutive walks after two were out and a two-run double by Maniscalco in the seventh completed the Bulldog scoring.

"I didn't feel good about the lead until we got the two-spot in the seventh," said Polk.

UNO got two hits from Justin LoFranco, including a solo home run off of Chris Young to lead off the seventh inning.

Chris Young (3-0) picked up the win with 4.2 solid innings of three-hit middle inning relief work. "I think I threw the ball well," said Young. "It was a great improvement over anything that I have done over the past three or four weeks. It was big for me to go out there and throw the ball well. I needed that."

Coach Rock agreed with Young's comments. "I think he got a little jolt of confidence from this game. He has been in a lot of SEC wars and we are really going to need him big-time during the SEC weekends."

Senior Ryan Carroll scattered four hits over 3.1 innings while sophomore Jonathan Papelbon, throwing just 13 pitches during his one inning of activity, struck out the side in the ninth inning.

Coach Rock commented on the pitching of closer Jonathan Papelbon. "We definitely wanted to get Papelbon some work because he has been battling some arm problems. He was down for about 5 or 6 days rehabbing. Now he is ready to go."

Starter Brandon Migues (1-1), the first of five UNO hurlers in the game, took the loss, striking out five and giving up one unearned run in his three innings of mound work.

Matthew Maniscalco put the win in perspective. "This was a big win going into the LSU series. But we weren't thinking this was a do-or-die game; this team doesn't think like that. We didn't think it was a must-win situation today. All we want to do is play with more consistency. We have to continue to work on that."

UNO (15-10) 000 000 100 - 1-7-2
MSU (13-8-1) 100 211 20x - 7-9-0
WP - Chris Young (3-0). LP -Brandon Migues (1-1). HR - (MSU) J.B. Tucker (2); (UNO) Justin LoFranco (4). T - 2:32. ATT - 6,081 (paid), 1,318 (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 You can contact him by emailing

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