While Maholm was shutting down the Bucs, Mississippi State's hitters jumped on ETSU starting pitcher Josh Kite in the second inning, scoring three runs on 2 hits, a walk and an error.
"We wanted to come out here and win," said senior shortstop Matthew Maniscalco. "I liked how we got runs on the board early in the game. With Paul on the mound, you know he is going to throw strikes. You know that he is going to shut it down."
Redshirt freshman catcher Craig Tatum started the inning off with a hard hit ball that was errored by the Bucs shortstop. Sophomore DH J. B. Tucker reached on an infield single to advance Tatum to second. With runners on first and third and one out, sophomore outfielder Jon Mungle hit a double to left-center to knock in Tatum. Senior shortstop Matthew Maniscalco hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield that knocked in the second run of the inning. The third run was scored by freshman centerfielder Joseph Hunter on a double-steal.
MSU scored their remaining three runs in the third inning.
In the inning, the first two Bulldog batters struck out and grounded out. The next five Bulldogs hitters all reached base on base hits, the most important being a two-run single by Mungle.
"We were the ones who put the ball in play and found some holes in the six-hole," said MSU coach Ron Polk. "They didn't make a couple of plays and we had a two-out rally in the third. I thought that we put a lot of pressure on them defensively because we put the ball on the ground."
From that point on, the Bucs pitchers shut the Bulldog hitters down, allowing two hits the final six innings of the game.
Being shutout the final six innings concerned Bulldog shortstop Matthew Maniscalco.
"We did need to score some more runs after that third inning," said Maniscalco. "We don't want to settle like that because that will come back and haunt us some day."
The leading hitters for the Bulldogs were Maniscalco with a 3-for-4 night and 1 RBI, Mungle who went 2-for-3 and 3 RBI, and Tucker who was 2-for-3. Freshmen Hunter and Tatum also hit the ball well going 1-for-3 and 1-for-2.
The Bulldog defense continued to play well, playing error-less ball. They have now committed just 3 errors in their first four game.
"We made all the plays," said Polk. "And this was a very, very tough day for infielders, no traction, mud on your cleats. It is so soft out there and very spongy."
The Bulldog pitching was just as effective as the offense and defense, allowing just 5 hits.
Paul Maholm pitched 6 innings, allowing no runs on 5 hits, 1 walk, while striking out 8. True freshman Brad Corley pitched 2 innings of shutout ball, allowing no hits, 1 walk and striking out 1.
"We know that Corley is a stud on the mound," said Maniscalco. "Every player is very confident when he is (on the mound). He will be a dominant pitcher here and he can be this year."
Saunders Ramsey also threw 1 inning, allowing no runs, hits or walks while striking out 2.
"Paul Maholm, Brad Corley and Saunders Ramsey did what you had to do with a lead, throw strikes," said Polk.
Polk also explained the reason why he decided to use the freshman, Brad Corley, on the mound during the game.
"(Corley) may start Tuesday at UAB. That is what our plan is. We just wanted him to get his feet wet. We thought it was important for him to get an inning or two under his belt. we accomplished that. I think he pitched very well. (In the fall) he was evaluated by the players and coaches as one of the top five pitchers on the staff. We have to use him."
MSU and ETSU play again Saturday with gametime scheduled for 2 p.m. Alan Johnson will pitch for MSU with Tim Turner, ETSU's ace, going for the Bucs.
OTHER POSTGAME QUOTES:
Getting a lead early.
"It was huge (to jump our early). When a team knows that we have Maholm on the mound, they know that it is an All-American out there. It is going to be a tough game for them. They are going to have to drive in every single (runner) that gets in scoring position."
"The coaches told us these guys were going to throw a bunch of lefties at us. They drilled in our heads to try and drill the ball the other way and react on inside pitches."
Starting the season late.
"We start so much later than everybody else and we hear about how some teams are 20-2. We wonder if we will be ready. Now that it is finally here, we are all excited about it."
Pitching with an early lead.
"It is pretty important when the offense goes out and puts a couple of runs up early. You can then go out there and just throw your game and not worry about anything."
Pitching in a non-conference game compared to a conference game.
"I take every one of them exactly the same. They all count as wins or losses at the end. The (NCAA selection committee) don't care if they are conference or non-conference. I just go out there and try to get the first game of the series for us."
Talking about the offense of the Bulldogs.
"They are doing what they have to do. They are moving runners over. In one inning, we had two outs and nobody on and we got three runs. That was pretty important for us."
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