Before a crowd of 2,465, Mississippi State used a two-run eight inning, highlighted by a home run by redshirt freshman Thomas Berkery, good pitching and great defense to defeat Lipscomb, 3-1."> Before a crowd of 2,465, Mississippi State used a two-run eight inning, highlighted by a home run by redshirt freshman Thomas Berkery, good pitching and great defense to defeat Lipscomb, 3-1.">

Mississippi State Defeats Lipscomb 3-1

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/coaches/baseball/polkinbox.jpg" align="left" width="120" height="179"> Before a crowd of 2,465, Mississippi State used a two-run eight inning, highlighted by a home run by redshirt freshman Thomas Berkery, good pitching and great defense to defeat Lipscomb, 3-1.

"We are going to play a lot of close games this year because we pitch pretty good and we have some youngsters in the lineup," said MSU coach Ron Polk. "We aren't going to be a team that is going to beat great ball clubs by 7 or 8 runs. Defense is how you win close games. I feel good about our defense if we can stay healthy."

The Bulldogs' hitters jumped on Lipscomb's starting pitcher David Patton early, scoring 1 run in the first inning.

Senior shortstop Matthew Maniscalco led off the inning with a walk, then stole second. Steve Gendron knocked him in with a single to left.

However, unlike Friday's game, the Bulldogs would not have an easy time of the Bisons starting pitcher, David Patton.

"He was throwing off-speed stuff, keeping us off-balance real well," said Berkery, referring to how Patton kept the Bulldogs hitters down during most of his pitching stint.

The Bisons' hitters didn't fare much better against Bulldog starter Alan Johnson.

In the top of the second, the Bisons mounted their first serious threat by putting men on first and third via a base hit and an error. Johnson got the next three batters on two strikeouts and a ground out to short to end the threat with no runs scoring.

Neither team mounted another threat until the top of the sixth, when Lipscomb got on the scoreboard with a run. After Bulldog centerfielder Joseph Hunter robbed Kyle Jackson of a hit with a diving catch in short centerfield, Chris Parker hit a double down the left field line. Nathan McCorkle knocked him in with a single.

Now with a man on first and one out, Bulldog coach Ron Polk brought ace reliever Jonathan Papelbon in to replace Johnson. Papelbon responded by striking out the first two batters that he faced to end the scoring threat.

"We have three great starters who can get the job done in the beginning," said Papelbon. "I come in and slam the door. It's all good."

For the first time in the young season, sophomore right-handed pitcher Alan Johnson didn't have his best stuff, allowing 1 run on 7 hits in 5.1 innings of activity. He struck out 4 while walking no one. Johnson has no walks in 19.1 inning of activity.

"I didn't think Alan Johnson was as effective today as he has been," said Polk. "He wasn't locating as well."

The Bulldogs mounted a threat of their own in the bottom of the inning. After Maniscalco led the inning off with a double, Bisons skipper Wynn Fletcher replaced starting pitcher Patton with right-hand sidearmer Seth Kuwik. Kuwik snuffed the threat by striking out Jon Mungle and Steve Gendron and getting Matthew Brinson to popup to the third baseman.

"That sidewinder guy came in and was throwing pretty hard. He was a tough guy to hit. My man T-Berk came in and saved the day."

After a scoreless seventh inning, the Bulldogs finally ended the tie by pulling ahead with two runs in the bottom of the eight.

Berkery led off the inning with his home run just to the left of the centerfield wall. Maniscalco followed that with his ninth triple of his career. Jon Mungle knocked him in with a sacrifice fly to short left field.

"With the wind (blowing out), today was who could get the ball up," said Polk. "Berkery got one up and then we get Maniscalco to third and I took a gamble on the leftfielder not being able to throw him out."

The Bulldogs, held to six hits, were led in hitting by Maniscalco with 2 hits. Maniscalco is now hitting .500 on the season.

"He is off to a good start," said Polk, referring to the early-season hitting of Maniscalco. "I can't asked him to stay up at that level all year."

Papelbon, winning his second game of the season against no losses, threw 3.2 innings, allowing no runs on 1 hit and no walks. He struck out 6.

"We thought that it was important to have (Papelbon) in because when their ace closer came in we knew we were in for a ball game," said Polk.

The Bisons were led in hitting by Chris Parker, Nathan McCorkle and Ben Blumenthal, all with 2 hits apieces.

"I thought that they did a good job of moving up in the box and just trying to put the ball in play," said Polk." They hit some well hit balls at us."

Bisons starting pitcher David Patton completed 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 4. Ace reliever Seth Kuwik (1-1) took the loss after allowing 2 runs on 2 hits during his 3 inning stint. He stuck out 5.

"We faced two pretty good pitchers," said Polk. "The kid who started today didn't have great numbers coming in but I thought that he was very effective, changed speeds well, got our guys on their front foot causing them to run out of bat a few times. We didn't really hit many well hit balls."

The two teams finish the three-game series Sunday afternoon. Gametime is set for 1:30. MSU sophomore lefty Todd Nicholas (0-0, 2.57) will draw the start for MSU while Lipscomb will counter with righty Todd Boucher (1-0, 0.00).


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 swindoll@genespage.com


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