Diamond Dogs Top Samford 7-2

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Pitcher Jacob Blakeney survived a first inning scare and went on to record his first career win Tuesday night as Mississippi State (18-11-1) posted a 7-2 win over Samford 19-15) at Dudy Noble Field.

"This is probably the best Samford ballclub that Tim Parenton has had," said MSU coach Ron Polk. "They have had some pretty good success against some pretty good teams. I knew this wasn't going to be an easy ball game."

Blakeney gave up three of his five hits in the first inning, including a two-run home run to the second batter he faced in the game, rightfielder Robert Evans. But after the first inning Blakeney allowed just two baserunners and finished his career-longest seven-inning mound stint with six strikeouts, also a career-high.

"They got the base hit and the home run," said Polk. "The guy (Evans) juiced the ball. I think Jacob bore down really well. He made some quality pitches. The key to him is he has a very effective breaking ball. It is called a very hard slider. If he gets depth on it, he is nasty against right-handers, but he has got to get ahead of the count."

Jonathan Papelbon followed Blakeney on the mound in the eighth, retiring the six batters he faced to register his fourth save.

"Jonathan Papelbon came in and did what you had to do, especially after we put the two runs on the board in the 8th inning," said Polk. "They didn't really hit the ball hard off of him."

Mississippi State backed Blakeney with ample run support. Matthew Maniscalco walked to open the MSU first and scored on a Matthew Brinson double down the rightfield line. State used four walks to tie the score in the second and took the lead with three runs in the third. Michael Brown's bases-loaded single to left score a pair and Casey Long's infield groundout drove in another.

State plated two more runs in the eighth to close out the scoring. Chad Henry drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly to right and Brinson followed with his second run-scoring hit, a single that scored Matthew Maniscalco.

"We did hit some ground balls and line drives that fell in," said Polk. "But we hit too many popups tonight. We hit about 6 or 7 routine fly balls."

Scott Fowler (2-2), the second of six pitchers used by Samford in the game, took the loss. He walked four and allowed three runs on one hit in 2/3 of an inning.

The top four hitters in the Samford batting order combined for all six SU hits, including two by designated hitter Major Allred.

The Bulldogs continue their eight-game homestand Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. playing host to Mississippi Valley State.

"Mississippi Valley will come in very interested in knocking off Mississippi State," said Polk. "It is very important for us to play good again (Wednesday) night so that we can go in against Arkansas with a 19-11 record."

SU (19-15) 200 000 000 - 2-5-2
MSU (18-11-1) 113 000 02x - 7-7-0
WP - Jacob Blakeney (1-2). LP - Alan Bryan (2-5). HR - Robert Evans (4). T - 2:08. ATT - 5,926 (paid), 921 (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 swindoll@genespage.com.

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