MSU Defeated by Birmingham Southern, 4-1

On a cold, wet and windy Saturday night, Mississippi State and Birmingham Southern tangled in the National Bank of Commerce Classic before a MSU-opening day crowd of 759 die-hard fans.<P> To the disappointment of the Bulldog fans, the star of the game wasn't a Bulldog player, but Birmingham Southern's junior left-hander Derek Griffith who allowed 1 run on 6 hits and 1 walk in a complete game, 4-1, victory over the 10th ranked Bulldogs.

"The thing that made Griffith so effective was that he only walked one," said MSU coach Ron Polk.

In the longest outing of his career, Griffith, who came into the game with a 0-1 record but a 1.35 earned run average, gave up five of his six hits in the first three innings. Over the course of the final six inning, he allowed just three runners to reach base, two of whom reached in the bottom of the ninth inning, MSU's only real scoring threat in the final six innings.

Pre-season All-American left-hander Paul Maholm (0-1) took the loss for the Bulldogs, although he only gave up 2 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits and 1 walk while striking out 6 in seven innings.

"I thought that Paul Maholm was very sharp," said Polk. "It was just a matter of who got the hits at the right time."

Birmingham Southern (4-3), playing their third game in two days and seventh of the young season, plated the first run of the game in the third inning. After Jared Walker started off the inning with a base hit, Adam Pease knocked him in when he hit a ball just inside the first base line for a double.

"It was out first game and their seventh game, so we knew coming in that they had a little extra going for them because they had a few games under their belts," said Polk.

Mississippi State (0-1) tied it up in their half of the inning when junior college transfer Tyler Scarbrough, in his second at-bat as a Bulldog, hit a home run over the right field fence. MSU threaten to score more in the inning, but a Matthew Brinson shot to the right field corner, with a man on first, was caught just above the top of the fence by Birmingham Southern's right fielder Michael Cline.

"Matthew Brinson got one up that just seemed to die on the warning track," said Polk.

From that point on, both pitchers threw shutout ball until the sixth, when Bulldog left-hander Paul Maholm gave up a two-out single by Michael Cline that scored Matt Bogue and put Birmingham Southern up 2-1.

Neither team would score again until the top of the eight inning, when Birmingham Southern scored two unearned runs on a two-out popup that was dropped by Bulldog shortstop Matthew Maniscalco, putting them up 4-1 going into the bottom of the eight inning.

The Bulldogs looked like they would finally get to Griffith in the bottom of the ninth inning after putting men on second and third with one out, but Griffith struck out pinch-hitter Robby Goodson on a called third strike and caused pinch-hitter Thomas Berkery to pop-up to the second baseman to end the game.

Birmingham Southern was led in hitting by Adam Pease (2-for-5) and Jared Walker (2-for-4), both of whom had two hits.

MSU's hitting leader was Steve Gendron, who went 2-for-3.

Mississippi State will play a doubleheader against the University of Connecticut beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday. Pitching for the Bulldogs will be sophomore right-hander Alan Johnson, in his first outing as a Bulldog, and hard-throwing redshirt sophomore left-hander Todd Nicholas.

"We play well (Sunday) and maybe beat the (UConn) Huskies (2-0) two games and come out of here 2 and 1, which would be a pretty good start for us," said Polk.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at

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