In the first game, behind the pitching of sophomore newcomer Alan Johnson, MSU defeated Connecticut 4-3.
"I was pretty nervous at first," said Johnson. "I didn't expect to do as well as I did today. All in all, I did pretty well."
Johnson, in his first career Bulldog start, threw 7 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and no walks. He stuck out 4.
"I liked him in the fall," said MSU coach Ron Polk. "He can pitch. He has the weapons. He showed it here. He is not going to walk anybody. When you throw strikes, you have a chance to win a ballgame."
Mississippi State scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a 4-2 lead which would hold up until the top of the ninth inning.
Connecticut, in the ninth, scored a run to pull to within 1, then had the tying and leading runs on second and third before MSU reliever Robby Goodson struck out Mike Mocerino to end the threat and the game.
The hitting and fielding star for the Bulldogs in the first game was freshman centerfielder Joseph Hunter who was 2-for-3 with a double, triple and RBI and threw a runner out at the plate in the crucial ninth inning.
"He has a major league arm," said Polk. "That was a big play that won the ballgame for us."
In the nightcap, the Bulldogs (2-1) put the game away in the fourth inning when they scored 3 runs on 3 hits, a balk and an error to make the score 5-1.
In the top half of that same inning, Connecticut (1-3) had a chance of their own to have a big inning, but Jacob Blakeney, in relief of starter Todd Nicholas, came in with the bases loaded and allowed just 1 run. The highlight of the inning was when Matthew Maniscalco made a diving stab of a hard grounder up the middle and turned it into a double play.
"I thought (Todd Nicholas) threw well until he walked the first two guys with a three-run lead," said Polk referring to Nicholas' first outing of the year.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Bulldog second baseman Tyler Scarbrough, with a man on base, hit his second home run of the weekend to put MSU up 8-1.
"I just tried to get a few pitches that I could hit," said Scarbrough. "I got a fastball that I hit against Birmingham Southern and I got a hanging curveball against UConn."
In the nightcap, the hitting stars for MSU were Scarbrough and catcher J.B. Tucker, both of whom had two hits apiece. Scarbrough had three RBI and Tucker two.
For the three games, the overall hitting star for the Bulldogs was Steve Gendron with 5 hits.
"I feel a little more confident at the plate and that is helping me see the ball better and hit the ball better," said Gendron.
Gendron, who played rightfield for the Bulldogs last season, played third base all three games, the position he played his freshman season.
"It feels great," said Gendron. "It keeps me in the game more at third because there is always action over there."
Mississippi State's next games are next weekend when East Tennessee visits Dudy Noble Field. Gametimes are 4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
According to Polk, MSU is expected to use the same pitching rotation of Paul Maholm, Alan Johnson and Todd Nicholas.
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 email@example.com