State-UALR Washed Out In Second

Mississippi State had hoped to use Tuesday night to regain some momentum here at the end of the regular schedule. Instead the Diamond Dogs spent more time watching raindrops than pitches before their home game with Arkansas-Little Rock was first halted, then cancelled.

Tuesday's contest was stopped at 7:17 with the visiting Trojans holding a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the second, and Mississippi State batting with two outs and the tying runner on second base. The teams spent over an hour in their respective dugouts, watching both weather radar and the clock, before deciding to call it a night at 8:33. Only a light drizzle was falling on the tarped field but the radar showed more rain coming this way. With UALR thinking of the long bus ride home, and the Bulldogs needing to keep the field in good shape for the series with Alabama, all sides agreed to a washout and no score.

The no-decision meant that Bulldog 1B Mitch Moreland's two-run homer in the bottom of the first, his eighth shot of the season, never happened. And 2B Jeffrey Rea's single in the first, which would have been his 321st career hit, is also erased. The senior is seventh in SEC hitting history and fourth-best on the all-time Bulldog list.

The Trojans (20-29) grabbed a 1-0 lead with plenty of help from the hosts. State starting pitcher Tyler Whitney hit leadoff man Brian Asbill, then had him picked on a steal attempt. Except Moreland's throw hit the runner in the back, and when C Edward Easley tried to catch him off the bag his throw went into centerfield for another free base. So a fly ball by Robert Taylor scored Asbill.

Even after the Bulldogs trumped that in the bottom of the first with a two-out, two-run blast by Moreland, scoring Rea in front of him, Arkansas-Little Rock was able to come right back with three runs of their own in the top of the second. This time the Trojans rapped Whitney with singles by Brad Swiderski and Tyler Mason. A one-out bunt moved both into position to score off Asbill's base hit into rightfield. A walk later Taylor got his second RBI with a single to leftfield for a 4-2 lead.

The rain arrived in the bottom of the frame with 3B Connor Powers on first base via a walk and two down. The inning should have been over as CF Mark Goforth grounded to the shortstop and Asbill had plenty of time to make the force at second base. Except he missed Nick DeSanctis' glove low-and-away. Powers was waved around third and beat the throw from rightfield home as Goforth took second.

After a strike to Rea play halted and the field tarped. State had just two hits off UALR starter Levi Laughlin with three strikeouts already. Whitney had given up four hits, all in the second inning, with two walks and no strikeouts.

This was State's fifth rainout of the 2007 season, but the first wash of a home game.

The weekend series with Alabama concludes the set schedule and starts Thursday, a day earlier than usual under the SEC's end-of-season move begun last season so teams have more break between the final series and the league tournament which starts next Wednesday. In the first game Mississippi State will start RH Chad Crosswhite (7-2, 4.18) against the Crimson Tide which is expected to put RH Tommy Hunter (6-4, 3.65) on the hill.

Coach Ron Polk will speak to the media Wednesday at 11:00, updating the status of several hurting Bulldogs and other lineup plans for the weekend. SS Brandon Turner (hamstring) did not dress for Tuesday, nor did OF Jeff Flagg (back). RHP Aaron Weatherford has a sore shoulder again but did dress out.

Mississippi State is still second in the SEC's Western Division at 14-11, despite losing a series at Georgia, and third in the overall league standings. The Dogs still have a shot at winning their first-ever ‘modern' (post 1992) West title if they can win two more games than Arkansas, which hosts Mississippi this weekend.

Gene's Page Top Stories