Bulldogs pound on Rebels
By By Jeff Byrd/staff writer
May 19, 2002
STARKVILLE It will all come down to Sunday. Mississippi State put its baseball team within reach of the Southeastern Conference Tournament by romping past arch-rival Ole Miss 12-2 and 14-5 on Saturday here at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs took advantage of poor pitching by the slumping Ole Miss staff to climb to within one win of reaching the SEC Tournament for the 16th straight year. Ole Miss, which needed a win to clinch a berth, will also have to wait until Sunday.
The only good news for the Rebels was Auburn coming back to beat Arkansas 7-3 in 10 innings in Fayetteville, Ark. Ole Miss, now 14-15 in SEC play, can qualify for the eight-team conference tourney by beating State on Sunday or by getting another Auburn win.
State, on the other hand, must complete the sweep in order to make the field. Judging by how well they swung the bat on Saturday, the Bulldogs have a ton of momentum.
Coach Ron Polk's Dogs ripped Ole Miss for 26 hits in the doubleheader. They batted around three different times and had a seven-run inning in each game of the sweep.
For Ole Miss to salvage its season, they need to make plays, says Rebel head coach Mike Bianco.
Mississippi State 12
Ole Miss 2
Ole Miss starter Pete Montrenes appeared to be in good shape through four innings taking a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth. Then, his fastball abandoned him.
That started a downward spiral that neither he nor the Rebels could reverse. A leadoff single by Jason Burkley was followed after a popout, by three straight walks. Chad Henry then delivered a base-hit to left scoring Robby Goodson with the tying run at 2-2.
A pop out to the catcher gave Montrenes some hope but that was quickly dashed when Steve Gendron, State's top RBI man, ripped a two-run single to left scoring Casey Long and Matthew Mansicalco for the lead.
Jon Mungle followed with a hit to right for a 5-2 edge. Burkley reached for the second time in the at-bat on an error which plated Gendron to make it 6-2. Brent Lewis then doubled to left-center to cap the 7-run rally.
For Montrenes, it was tough exit after a good start.
The big inning did wonders for State starter Paul Maholm who pretty much cruised from the fourth on. He gave up just two hits following the Rebels' 2-run, 3-hit inning in the third.
Maholm went the distance scattering six hits. He improves to 9-3 with the win.
Ole Miss' pen wasn't much better. State got to Al Simontis for five runs in the sixth to knock the game out to a 10-run lead. Matthew Brinson had a two-run double to highlight the Bulldog rally.
Gendron led State going 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Henry had two hits and two runs while Goodson ended with two hits.
The Rebels were paced by Chad Sterbens who had two hits including a RBI single in the third. The hit extended Sterben's SEC hitting streak to 28 games. Matt Tolbert also singled and scored in the Rebel third.
Mississippi State 14
Ole Miss 5
The Bulldogs completed the sweep by scoring 10 runs over their first two at bats in the second game.
Ole Miss starter Alan Horne had trouble throwing strikes walking six in just over an inning. He threw 54 pitches before being lifted with no out in the second.
By then, State was already up 3-0. The walks in the second helped set up the 7-run outburst that put the Bulldogs in command at 10-0.
Matthew Brinson, Steve Gendron and Jon Mungle each drove in runs to make it 6-0. Brent Lewis had a RBI fly-out and Robby Goodson doubled in two runs to key State.
Ole Miss got two runs back in the third, one coming off a RBI hit by Chad Sterbens who advanced his SEC record hitting streak to 29 games.
It was 10-3 when the Bulldogs got three more in the fourth to go up 13-3. Mungle, Burkley and Lewis all scored after reaching on singles against the third Rebel pitcher in Clint Morris.
Ole Miss added single runs in the sixth and eighth. State scored its final run in the bottom of the eighth.
The Bulldogs, 32-22-1, was led by former Meridian Community College player Casey Long with three hits. Mungle was 3-for-5 while Burkley and Gendron each had two of State's 14 hits.
Ole Miss reliever Adam Yates, who had the team's best ERA, was roughed up for four earned runs after replacing Horne (5-2) who took the loss.
Tanner Brock went seven innings to gain the win going to 7-4 on the year.