MSU's surreal season
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
June 8, 2004
STARKVILLE Mississippi State University played out a strange baseball season in 2004.
The Bulldogs watched three players junior outfielder Jon Mungle and freshmen infielders Bunky Kateon and Michael Rutledge suffer injuries early in the season, missed the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament for the first time in 18 years and let their final game slip away with the team's best pitcher on the mound.
MSU closed the season with a 14-7 loss to Texas Tech in the Atlanta regional of the NCAA baseball tournament last Saturday. The Bulldogs who finished 2004 with a 35-24 record earned an at-large berth into the NCAA tourney as the No. 3 seed in Atlanta.
The Bulldogs loss to the Red Raiders, who defeated MSU 10-6 last Friday in the opening round of the regional, came with an unlikely pitcher on the mound Saunders Ramsey.
The junior sidearmer had been MSU's most reliable performer for the 2004. Ramsey led the Bulldogs with four saves, a 2.27 ERA and had only allowed five of 27 inherited runners to score in 24 appearances before the elimination loss.
Ramsey entered the game against Texas Tech with MSU holding a 7-4 lead, but the Red Raiders roughed up the reliever for eight runs to take a 9-7 lead. Ramsey inherited two runners, who reached by a walk and a hit by pitch.
The strange ending capped an up-and-down season for the Bulldogs.
MSU compiled a 12-2 mark before the start of conference play, but the team struggled against SEC opponents, losing its first three league series.
The Bulldogs captured their first three-game series against a conference foe against Kentucky, taking two of three games in Lexington, Ky., on April 9-11.
MSU didn't sweep a SEC series until its final three-game conference stand of the season. The Bulldogs swept Alabama on May 21-23.
The sweep capped a strong finish for the Bulldogs, who won six of their last seven games.
Though MSU closed the regular season on a hot streak, the Bulldogs missed qualifying for the SEC tournament for an 18th straight year by one game.
MSU should return the majority of its team for the 2005 season. Thirty-one of the 41 players on the Bulldogs' roster this season were freshmen and sophomores.
MSU will graduated three seniors Steve Gendron, Tyler Scarbrough and Jeff Lacher and only one of the team's underclassmen was selected in the first 18 rounds of the Major League Baseball amateur draft on Monday.
Sophomore catcher Craig Tatum was selected in the third round by the Cincinnati Reds. Gendron was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 13th round of the draft.