Lacher (1-0), making his third appearance of the season and his first start of the year, scattered eight hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter to earn the win. The start of the game was delayed 25 minutes by rain.
"I thought that Jeff was very effective," said MSU coach Ron Polk. "What helped Jeff Lacher out was that he didn't walk anybody. There have been times where his command hasn't been that good. I thought that he competed well and had life on his fastball."
The Bulldogs bunched six of their eight hits in the second and third innings while building up a 7-1 lead prior to a rain delay that halted play for an hour and 55 minutes. MSU tapped UNO starter Chris Bourgeois (1-2) for three runs in the second and four more in the third, aided by a pair of Privateer errors in each inning. Freshman centerfielder Jeff Butts, making his first career start, doubled in a run in the second and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly in the second.
"(Butts) put the ball in play," said Polk. "He is very effective and he is just a true freshman."
UNO battled back after play resumed, plating a pair of runs off MSU starter Jeff Lacher in the fifth and two more in the sixth. But Lacher retired UNO in order in the seventh and eighth and Brian Owens came on in the ninth and set the Privateers down in order.
"We went into a rain delay feeling pretty good but then they started putting the ball in play," said Polk. "I thought that Brian Owens came in and did a heck of a job against the pinch-hitter and then got the next two," said Polk.
Steve Gendron and Brent Lewis had two hits each for MSU. Lewis laced a triple and scored the Bulldogs' eighth run of the game in the fifth inning.
UNO got two hits each from Joe Pietro and Mike Nuckles. Starter Chris Bourgeois was charged with seven runs before leaving the game after retiring one batter in the third. Thomas Diamond, the third Privateer pitcher in the game, quieted the Bulldogs after entering the game in the sixth. Diamond retired the first 11 batters he faced, eight via strikeouts, before giving up a two-out double by Steve Gendron in the ninth. Gendron scored the game's last run on a pair of wild pitches.
"We swung the bats very good off of (Chris) Bourgeois," said Polk. "I really liked (Thomas) Diamond who came in at the end. He was very, very effective with a 90 to 91 (mph) fastball and a good change-up. I'm glad he is not in our league."
Mississippi State returns to action Friday at 6:30 p.m., opening a three-game series and the 2003 Southeastern Conference season against the Vanderbilt Commodores (10-6). Bulldog junior lefty Paul Maholm (2-1, 0.90) is expected to be matched with Commodore ace Jeremy Sowers (0-2, 3.06).
"They have some experience pitching, especially front-liners," said Polk, talking about the upcoming series with Vanderbilt. "Looking at the stats, they haven't been making many errors. They haven't scored a lot of runs. That gives us hope that we can have a good weekend. They should be low-scoring ballgames this weekend so we have to make the routine plays and get timely hits."
MISSISSIPPI STATE 9, NEW ORLEANS 4
MSU 034 010 001 -- 9-8-2
UNO 010 021 000 -- 4-8-4
WP -- Jeff Lacher (1-0). LP -- Chris Bourgeois (1-2). T -- 2:37. ATT -- 493.
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