State takes opener from Georgia
By By Marty Stamper/EMG sports assistant
April 6, 2002
STARKVILLE Mississippi State extended its Dudy Noble Field dominance of Georgia to seven games with a 7-5 victory in the opener of their three-game series Friday night before 5,819 fans.
The teams meet at 3:07 p.m. today for the second game in a contest televised by SEC-TV.
State improved to 5-4 in the SEC and 16-10-1 overall. East Division leader Georgia fell to 7-3 and 16-9.
MSU dodged a huge bullet in the top of the eighth as Georgia loaded the bases with one out before reliever Jonathan Papelbon struck out Lee Mitchell (looking) and Matt Cavendar (swinging) to end the inning with State protecting its two-run lead.
In picking up his third save, Papelbon extended his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 30-to-4.
The game featured a matchup of MSU coach Ron Polk's current team and his former team of the last two seasons. Georgia outhit MSU 13 to nine, but committed four errors.
The game nearly turned into a slugfest considering both teams were going with their aces on the mound.
State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Casey Long reached on an error and scored on a single up the middle by Steve Gendron.
MSU went up 4-0 in the third, thanks in large part to wildness by Georgia starter Mickey Westphal, who walked Jason Burkley and Matthew Brinson on 10 pitches to start the inning. Gendron followed with an RBI-single and another run-scoring single by Michael Brown made it 3-0. The third run of the inning scored on a high chop behind the mound by Winston Pearson.
Georgia struck for three runs on five hits in the top of the fifth and should have had more. Shortstop Jon Armitage and Justin Holmes singled to start the frame. MSU starter Paul Maholm (6-1) picked Armitage off second for the first out. Chaz Lytle reached on an infield hit and Mitchell ripped a two-run double into the gap in left-center. Adam Swann's single plated Mitchell to trim the MSU lead to 4-3.
Georgia continued to solve Maholm in the sixth, striking for a pair of two-out runs. Armitage singled and Holmes followed with a ground-rule double over the fence in the left-field corner. Lytle drove in the tying run with an infield hit, while Mitchell's single gave Georgia a 5-4 lead and nine hits off Maholm in a two-inning span.
Pearson started an MSU rally in the bottom of the sixth with a ground-rule double to center field that chased Westphal. Matthew Maniscalco, who had a 13-game hitting streak snapped, reached when Lytle dropped his high fly in left-center after a long run. Long drew a walk off reliever Jeffery Carswell (1-3) to load the bases. Brinson recaptured the lead for MSU with a two-run single that barely eluded a diving Armitage behind the second base bag on Carswell's first pitch.
Carswell has yet to allow an earned run this season.
It was also a reminder to Polk that he could have easily worn a Georgia uniform for this weekend's series.
Georgia snapped Maholm's string of three straight SEC complete games when Clint Sammons led off the top of the eighth with a single. Georgia loaded the bases with one out before Papelbon slammed the door with a pair of whiffs.