Moore began his stint in the light of day and by the time he'd completed six full innings the lights were on at Dudy Noble Field. Whatever the illumination, the starter turned in a stout effort with the lone run allowed to pick up a second winning decision on the young season.
"I had all my control and just had good defense behind me," Moore said. "They made the plays because I didn't strike them out like in my relief appearance the other night." Still he struck out enough Jaguars, six in all. And of those batters who did reach base Moore removed three by pickoffs. Moore walked two with five hits, not leaving until his team had a commanding lead.
"The thing about Forrest, when he gets 40-50-60 pitches into it he finishes his pitches better," Coach John Cohen said. Moore tallied 90 official tosses on the cool evening before handing the ball and lead to senior Chad Crosswhite to complete.
South Alabama (2-3) scored first but after that all the offense came from the home team, crammed into the fourth and fifth innings. It took a while to get a good read on Jaguar starter Dustin Crenshaw but when the Dogs did the stick came alive, as has been the case all five games this early season. The turning point came when Powers smacked a solo home run.
"Any time you score the first run that really puts a charge in your team, however you get it," said Powers. The bigger point was that the Dogs never doubted they would get that run, even as the visitors were making a string of superb defensive stops.
"We've got a lot of guys with a lot of tools," said DH Ryan Duffy, who had two hits and a couple of RBI himself. "The lineup has been different every day and we're still putting runs up, I think that's how it's going to be all year. Everybody competes hard and attacks the game and that's our philosophy. It's working really well so far."
"Tonight was a great test for us," said Cohen. "South Alabama has always been a great opponent for Mississippi State. And they made some great defensive plays, dominant plays. But we hung in there and strung some runs together."
But first it was Moore stringing a couple of zeroes on the top scoreboard line, even as each inning opened with a free base. He hit the leadoff Jaguar in the first, then walked the first batter of the second; and caught each leading off the bag for easy rundowns. "I've always had I guess a decent move but Connor helped me out with a couple of tags, the way he sold it."
Not so easy was the shot designated hitter Brandon Brown lined off first baseman Powers that turned into a double. Centerfielder Clint Reynolds singled for runners on corners with no outs. Moore popped-out the ninth batter and coaxed a line-out to rightfield by Nat Lami for the first Jaguar run.
And the only score of the frame; though Zach Grichor reached on a low throw to first by 3B Russ Sneed, C.Powers fired back to third and got Reynolds trying to stretch his luck an extra corner.
State couldn't take advantage of a two-on opportunity in their third. "He did a good job the first time around," said Powers, who was ready the second time he saw Crenshaw. It was in the fourth inning and third pitch. "The sequence was the same as my last at-bat, once they got a curve for a strike they went fastball-up and curveball again. So it was just sitting on it." The high drive easily cleared the fence left of centerfield.
"We've been waiting for that big guy to get into one," said Duffy. "That was an absolute bomb and I think you're going to see a lot more of that this year."
A walk of Duffy brought righthander Michael Raia from the S.A. pen, and he had to strand a pair himself. But 2B Jet Butler began the MSU fifth with a single, took second on a grounder, and made third on a wild pitch. When Raia plunked C.Powers the Jags changed right-handers again, giving Jarret Bailey the ball. Duffy greeted him with a drive to the left-centerfield gap plating a pair of runs.
"I've been seeing the ball pretty well, I had a good plan and was trying to shoot the ball to the other field like Coach wanted and just executed." C Scott DeLoach followed with a single scoring Duffy for the 5-1 lead.
Moore kept that margin his sixth, aided by a heads-up play from SS Ryan Powers. With a Jaguar runner at second, R.Powers stayed with a grounder to deep short that he had no chance to relay to first in time. So he watched the runner and when Grichor rounded third flipped the throw in behind him for a tag.
"We tried throwing the curveball early but it wasn't really working," Moore said. "So I started throwing my fastball and was getting outs with that, and worked on the curveball later in the game."
Bailey took care of the last 3.1 innings with the one run on four hits. Crosswhite didn't strike out anyone but also was touched for just one hit in his three full turns. And he rolled a nice double-play to take care of that Jag runner in the eighth, en route to his first save of the season.
Cohen wasn't entirely pleased with the Dog defense, even if only one official error was ruled. "But we did what we had to do to win. And it's important to win these games. Just like it's important to win tomorrow's game."
State (4-1) will host Mississippi Valley State in a 4:00 Wednesday meeting. Cohen said the starting pitcher would be announced prior to the game, though he did say the weekend rotation for the Nicholls State series is tentatively set. Ricky Bowen will open Friday, Nick Routt on Saturday, and if he isn't worked in much relief action Crosswhite could get the ball first Sunday.