Bulldogs batter Indians’ pitching|[4/06/06]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2006

PEARL – Some people go for a walk when they suffer a major disappointment. Others eat ice cream.

Mississippi State snacked on a steady diet of mediocre Louisiana-Monroe pitching.

The Bulldogs cranked out 14 hits, batted around in two different innings, and took advantage of 11 walks from five ULM pitchers to claim a 15-4 win in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday at Trustmark Park.

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Joseph Hunter and Joseph McCaskill each drove in three runs for Mississippi State (24-4) in game one, Brad Jones hit a two-run homer, and Thomas Berkery and Edward Easley had three hits apiece.

Matt Lea threw seven innings of two-hit, shutout ball in the second game as the Bulldogs completed the sweep with an 11-0 victory. State banged out 13 hits and jumped out to a 7-0 lead after three innings.

Jeffrey Rea went 3-for-5 with two RBIs for the Bulldogs in game two, and Jeff Butts drove in two runs with a double.

A crowd of 6,241 witnessed the doubleheader. It was the third-largest crowd in the brief two-year history of Trustmark Park, and the largest for a game not involving the Mississippi Braves. On Tuesday, 5,282 people attended the game between Southern Miss and Ole Miss at Trustmark Park.

&#8220Playing 18 innings, it’s good to come out and score some runs,” said Hunter, the Mississippi State center fielder who had only one hit in the doubleheader, but drove in four and scored five.

Berkery went 2-for-4 in game two to extend his hitting streak to 25 games. He can break the single-season school record of 27 games, set by Ron Brown in 1993, this weekend against Georgia in Starkville. Rex Buckner hit safely in 31 straight games between the 1992 and ‘93 seasons.

&#8220I’m going to try and get a hit every game, regardless” of the streak, Berkery said.

On Tuesday, Louisiana Tech rallied for seven runs with two outs in the ninth inning to beat Mississippi State 13-12. State’s steady hitting and ULM’s erratic pitching ensured that there wouldn’t be a repeat on Wednesday.

In game one, State scored five runs in the bottom of the first on only two hits – an infield single by Berkery and a two-run single by Jeff Butts. The Bulldogs drew four walks and a hit batsman, three of them with the bases loaded, and chased Louisiana-Monroe starter Daniel Roberts after only a third of an inning.

&#8220Last night was kind of a freak happening. But it was good to come out and get some hits,” said Berkery, who was 5-for-9 with one RBI and four runs scored in the doubleheader. &#8220We just wanted to come out and swing the bats well.”

Roberts’ replacement, Kyle Smith, walked in two runs and gave up Butts’ base hit before pitching his way out of the jam. He didn’t last long, though.

ULM coach Jeff Schexnaider lifted Smith after he surrendered two hits, a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly in the second inning.

Bucky Chandler relieved Smith after only two-thirds of an inning and pitched into the eighth inning. He left after being hit with a line drive, having allowed 10 hits, four walks and seven earned runs in 6 1/2 innings. Despite the robust stat line, he did get batters out and actually lowered his ERA from 18.00 to 13.50. ULM had a team ERA of 7.12 entering the doubleheader.

&#8220It all starts on the mound. Roberts went out there and couldn’t find the strike zone, and Kyle Smith had the same problem,” Schexnaider said.

ULM got on the board with Ben Soignier’s two-run home run in the top of the third, his fourth round-tripper in three games and 11th RBI in four games. The Bulldogs then put the game on ice with another five-run rally in the bottom of the fourth.

Hunter’s RBI triple and a two-run homer by Brad Jones keyed the inning, which left the Bulldogs with a 12-2 lead. An RBI double by Easley and a sacrifice fly by Berkery tacked on two more runs in the sixth, and the Bulldogs tallied one more in the seventh.

ULM scored one in the seventh and one in the ninth for the final margin.

Clemson 3, S. Carolina 2.

Brad Chalk’s soft RBI single to center in the seventh inning lifted Clemson to a victory over South Carolina that ended the top-ranked Gamecocks’ nine-game win streak.

The Tigers’ win turned the tables on their state rival. On March 4, it was Clemson (21-8) sitting at No. 1 and the Gamecocks who spoiled things with their 6-2 win.

This time, Chalk’s key hit and some solid relief by Daniel Moskos did the job against South Carolina (26-4), which rose to the top spot in the Collegiate Baseball rankings this week.