"(Brandon) got all of that," said MSU coach Ron Polk. "That ball was well hit. He has a little juice in his hands. He's a stronger kid that he was last year. He had never been in a weightroom his entire life (prior to coming to State)."
The game started well for the Bulldogs with three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Like he did in the bottom of the ninth, McCaskill singled in a run with two men out. Then Brian LaNinfa hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot which hit the bricks at the base of the scoreboard.
But Memphis answered with three runs of their own in the top of the second.
After Joey Lieberman doubled to start the inning, Michael Murray, with one out, knocked him in with a single to right center. Adam Amar and Ben Grisham followed with consecutive doubles to knock in two more runs to tie the game.
Memphis took the lead in the top of the third on a solo home run by Bill Moss.
In the top of the fourth they expanded it with three more runs.
A two-run home run by Grisham knocked MSU starting pitcher Tyler Whitney out of the game. Reliever Mike Valentine made his 2007 season debut and was greeted with a single by Chris Kirkland. After a sacrifice bunt ty K.K Chalmers, Will Petersen singled, putting men on 1st and third. Petersen then stole second to put men on second and third with one out. A ground out to third by Moss scored Kirkland, Memphis' third run of the inning.
Memphis expanded the lead to 8-3 in the top of the 6th on an RBI double by Will Petersen.
Then, the roof caved in for the Memphis Tigers in the bottom half of the inning.
Memphis starting pitcher Lance Scoggins, who had given up just two hits in the first five innings, hit the first batter of the inning, Mitch Moreland. McCaskill followed with a single. Then Scoggins hit his second batter of the inning, LaNinfa. Memphis replaced Scoggins with Mark Doll. He was greeted with a line out to left field by Connor Powers that scored Moreland. Andy Rice pinch hit for Jeff Flagg and hit a fly ball out to left field. The next batter, Mark Goforth, pinch-hitting for Nick Hardy, walked on a 3-2 count. Turner swung on the first pitch and hit his shot over the left center wall, tying the score 8-8.
Relievers Dusty Davis for Memphis and Jared Koon for MSU shut the hitters down over the course of the next two innings.
However, in the bottom of the ninth the Bulldogs finally got to Davis. Rea singled to start the inning. Then Ed Easley walked on four straight pitches. Moreland reached base on an attempted sacrifice bunt that was errored by the third baseman. Memphis brought in reliever Matt Yorkley, who had struck out 28 in 18.2 innings, to face McCaskill. But he was greeted with the game-winning single to short right center.
Ricky Bowen, who threw the final 1.1 innings, earned the victory for the Bulldogs. It was his third victory against no defeats. Valentine and Koon kept the Tigers at bay during the middle innings by throwing a combined 4.2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits and no walks while striking out 6.
"(Valentine) hasn't pitched much (this season)," said Polk. "His arm hasn't fully recovered and he's not throwing as hard, but he located. I thought Koon threw well. And we really need him."
Polk was also happy with Bowen's performance.
"Bowen has been good, he's been good," said Polk. "And we really need him because we can only use Mitch Moreland once a week because his arm gets tight."
Dusty Davis took the loss for the Tigers. His record goes to 3-1 on the season.
State was led at the plate by McCaskill who was 3-for-4 with two RBI. Rea was 2-for-4.
"Joseph is swinging the bat well," said Polk. "His last hit wasn't a well hit ball, but it found a hole. And it was hit deep enough to score Rea anyway."
Will Petersen, Adam Amar and Chris Kirkland were the hit leaders for the Tigers with three each. Former Bulldog Ben Grisham was 2-for-4 with a double, home run and 4 RBI.
The same two teams meet again Wednesday. Gametime is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Mississippi State will start junior lefthanded pitcher Jesse Carver on the mound. It will be his first career start.
"We start Jesse Carver (Wednesday)," said Polk. "(Greg) Houston is in relief. Bowen can also help us a little bit. And (John) Lalor can help us a couple of innings."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.