MSU Slips by Jacksonville State, 11-9

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Junior right-hander John Lalor gave the Mississippi State pitching staff a much-needed lift Wednesday afternoon, delivering 3-2/3 innings of shutout relief that helped the Bulldogs (8-1) to rally for an 11-9 win over Jacksonville State (4-7) at Dudy Noble Field.

The visiting Gamecocks took command of the game early, plating four first-inning runs and spoiling sophomore right-hander Jared Koon's debut as a starting pitcher. Koon was roughed up for 10 hits and the first six JSU runs before leaving the game an out into his third inning of work.

But the Bulldogs, as they did in Tuesday's 12-10 win over visiting UAB, rallied to win.

Trailing 7-4, the Bulldogs plated four runs in the fourth inning to take their first lead of the game. Edward Easley, who finished with a 4-for-5 plate performance, doubled in one run and Brian LaNinfa drove in two more with a double off the outfield fence.

JSU loaded the bases with Bulldog relief pitcher Jesse Carver on the mound, and scored twice on bases-loaded walks issued by State's second relief man in the game, John Lalor. Lalor settled down to retire the next nine batters and 10 of the next 11, then turned the game and an 11-9 lead over to freshman Ricky Bowen, who set the Gamecocks down in order in the ninth inning to record his first career save. Lalor allowed one hit, walked two and struck out three in his longest outing of the year.

"I came out a little wide-eyed and pitched like I had no experience," said Lalor. "After I got out of the inning and go into the dugout, I regained my composure. And with the help of my teammates, we were able to get the win."

State got its first run of the game on a solo home run by sophomore outfielder Jeff Flagg, his team-leading third blast of the year. But the Bulldogs also scored important single tallies in the fifth and sixth innings with the help of Jacksonville miscues. Mark Goforth reached on a two-out single, stole second and raced home with the tying run (9-9) on a pair of JSU throwing errors on the play. An inning later Mitch Moreland singled through the left side after two Bulldogs had been retired, moved to second when Brian LaNinfa walked, and came home with the go-ahead run on a throwing error.

Andy Rice capped the game's scoring when he opened the seventh inning with a solo home run, his first of the year.

"You have to score runs in midweek games, and fortunately we were able to do that these last two games," said MSU skipper Ron Polk. "I was pleased with the way John Lalor stepped in tonight. He gained some confidence on the mound."

Both teams piled up 14 hits combining for eight doubles, a triple and two home runs.

Easley notched his third four-hit plate performance and Mitch Moreland tallied his third three-hit game to extend their season-opening hitting streaks to all nine games. Two of Easley's hits went for doubles. Rice doubled, homered and drove in two runs while Brian LaNinfa matched a team season-high with a three-RBI effort.

Five Jacksonville State players registered multi-hit games, led by Allen Rose with a three-hit, two-RBI outing that included a pair of doubles. JSU starter Ben Tootle was charged with four runs on seven hits over three innings. Jon Clements, the third of five Gamecock pitchers used in the game, took the loss, allowing two runs (one earned) over two innings of relief work.

The Bulldogs leave early Thursday for Waco, Texas, and their first road competition of the year in the Quala-T Imprints Tournament hosted Friday through Sunday by Baylor University. State tests Winthrop University (10-7) Friday at 2:30 p.m., host Baylor (10-6) Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and first-time opponent San Francisco (8-6) Sunday at Noon at Baylor Ballpark at Ferrell Field.

The radio broadcast of the Friday and Sunday MSU games will be carried on WFCA-FM (107.9), the flagship station of MSU Athletics, while Saturday's game against host Baylor will be carried on the statewide MSU Baseball Radio Network. Live video streaming on the internet of the MSU-Baylor game on Saturday will being offered on a pay-per-view basis through the Baylor Athletic Department web site (www.Baylor

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