Matthew Maniscalco led off the sixth inning with a liner into leftfield and stole second on the first pitch home. Manny advanced to third on a wild pitch. Steve Gendron and Matthew Brinson reached to load the bases for Brad Corley. Corley's sacrifice fly scored Manny and caused Vandy to change pitchers. Righthander Matt Buschmann faced just three Bulldog batters without retiring one, before he was replaced. He walked Craig Tatum to load the bases again. Brent Lewis pinch hit for the righthander J.B. Tucker and drove a 3-1 pitch deep to right center for his first career grand slam.
"I was looking for a fastball and I knew he didn't want to walk me with the bases loaded," said Lewis. "I was waiting for it."
The 5-0 lead would be enough considering the show Nicholas was putting on for the numerous scouts behind home plate. He surrendered 1 run on 4 hits and strike out 4 on the day.
"I just wanted to go out and throw strikes and let my defense help me like I have all year," said Nicholas. "I try not to look back there at (the scouts). I just go out there and concentrate on the catcher."
"He has a bright future here at Mississippi State and maybe even the next level," said head coach Ron Polk. "We gave him no run support until the grand slam and that relaxed everyone including myself."
Lewis' grand slam eased the stress on Nicholas to go out and throw another scoreless inning.
"That was clutch, it got some runs on the board and it took a little pressure off of me," said Nicholas. "If Lewis gets a fastball he can hit, you can kiss it goodbye."
Jaime Gant worked 2 2/3 innings in relief and showed that he has the stuff to be competitive in the SEC.
"It's tough to come in with an eight-run lead and concentrate on getting outs," said Polk. "He came in and threw strikes, just like he did last night."
Gant, facing 12 batters, gave up just 2 hits and 2 walks.
Joseph Hunter and Maniscalco were the only Dawgs to turn in a two-hit day. Gendron had 2 RBI. Jon Mungle, Corley and Maniscalco had 1 RBI each.
The Bulldogs won the first SEC series of the year and face Arkansas in Fayetteville next weekend.
"We knew the game would be close just like the other two and we're happy to get the series win, although I'm a little disappointed we didn't sweep," said Polk. "Dave Van Horn (Arkansas head coach) has his team coming out of the gates on fire. They really must have shut down South Carolina to win in two low scoring ball games this weekend."
The Dawgs have a mid-week series with the University of Memphis which will be played in the first-class confines of Autozone Park, home of the St. Louis Cardinals Triple AAA affiliate Memphis Redbirds. Jeff Lacher is slated to pitch Tuesday and Corley will pitch on Wednesday.