Back to back home runs in the 8th inning by redshirt freshmen Craig Tatum and Thomas Berkery highlighted the scoring for the Bulldogs, now 6-1 on the season. Berkery's homer was a three-run shot.
The Bulldogs started off their scoring in the top of the second inning with a solo home run by junior first baseman Matthew Brinson.
In the top of the fourth, the Bulldogs opened up a 1-1 game with four unearned runs. With the bases loaded and two outs, a popup by Brinson was errored by the Blazer shortstop, allowing two runs to score. DH Brent Lewis knocked in the final two runs of the inning with a double off the centerfield wall.
"We hit some balls that would have been out of most ball parks," said Polk. "Brent Lewis hit one 15 to 20 feet up the centerfield fence, which is 400 feet away, and didn't get it out of the ball park."
The Blazers, who had not being able to do much against Bulldog freshman right-hander Brad Corley during the first three innings, finally knocked him out of the game in the fourth, scoring three runs to pull to within two, 6-4. Bulldog coach Ron Polk, with men on first and second and one out, brought in junior right-hander Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon, after balking the runners over to second and third, struck out the next two batters to end the inning with no further damage being done.
Coach Polk felt Papelbon coming in and shutting the door was a key part of the game.
"That was important," said Polk, referring to the strikeouts of Mitch Jones and Steve Martin. "The wind was blowing to right-field and they had two really good hitters coming up, (Kyle) Leon and (Daniel) Hill."
While Papelbon (1-0) shut the Blazers down in the 5th, 6th and 7th innings, the Bulldogs hitters continued to expand the lead by scoring 8 runs in the next four innings.
"We didn't leave too many guys on base," said Polk. "It seemed like every time we had a guy on base, we would get a well hit ball."
Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Brett Cleveland finished the game for the Bulldogs by throwing the final two innings.
Mississippi State was led at the plate by Matthew Brinson and Brent Lewis, both of whom went 3-for-4 on the night. Other Bulldogs batters with multiple hits included Matthew Maniscalco, Craig Tatum and Brad Jones with 2 hits apiece.
"I thought that our hitters swung the bat good tonight," said Polk. "I thought that we did pretty good job of putting the ball in play for the most part."
The Blazers had three players with double digit hits, Kyle Leon (2-for-5), Daniel Hill (3-for-5), and Eugene Rodriguez (2-for-3).
"(Kyle) Leon and (Daniel) Hill have great bats and can generate a lot of pop in their hands," said Polk.
Papelbon (1-0) earned the victory for the Bulldogs, allowing no runs on 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7 in his 3.2 innings of work.
"I think that it was important for Papelbon to come in and kind of neutralize things," said Polk. "He was pumping strikes in there and that is what you have to do."
Corley, in his first career start as a Bulldog, went 3.1 innings, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. He also struck out 3.
"We saw a lot of good things out of Corley tonight but, at the same time, his command was not as good as it needs to be, but it will get better," said Polk. "He is going to be a great pitcher."
Cody Cillo, who was 3-0 with an ERA of 1.29 coming into the game, allowed 7 runs (3 earned) on 5 hits and 5 walks to take the loss.
"I thought Cody would be a little more effective against us," said Polk. "I thought that he would pitch well enough to make this a 2-1 to 3-2 ball game. I am very surprised that we scored 14 runs."
MSU's next action is Wednesday afternoon when they take on Louisiana Tech at Dudy Noble Field. Game time is set for 3 p.m. Senior right-hander Jacob Blakeney (1-0, 2.25) will start for MSU while Louisiana Tech will likely throw several pitchers hoping to get some work in before their weekend series with Rice.
"We have a ball game (Wednesday) against a nice Louisiana Tech team," said Polk.
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are 5-8 on the season. The Bulldogs have stolen 28 bases on the season, led by Fairon Allen who is 9-for-9 in stole base attempts. Wade Robinson is the leading hitters for the Bulldogs, hitting.400 on the year with the team hitting .293 on the season.
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