USC Upsets No. 22 Mississippi State With 5-4 Win
March 12, 2004
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Bret Butler struck out Brian LaNinfa with the tying run at third in the bottom of the ninth Friday as the USC Trojans upset the No. 22 Mississippi State Bulldogs, 5-4, in the first game of a nonconference series at Dudy Noble Field. The Trojans (6-9) handed the Bulldogs (9-1) their first loss of the season and stopped a ninth-inning rally after MSU scored two runs.
Freshman right-hander Ian Kennedy improved to 3-0 on the season with 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. This season, he has a 1.47 ERA despite four of his five starts coming against Top 25 teams. In 30 2/3 innings, Kennedy has allowed 21 hits, five earned runs and nine walks. He has struck out 46 batters while opponents batting only .189 against him.
Down by three runs in the ninth, Jeff Butts got the Bulldogs' rally started by striking out, but reaching first on a wild pitch by USC reliever Josh Rummonds. After a walk to Jeffrey Rea, the Trojans turned to Butler. Shortstop Steve Gendron singled to right to load the bases with no outs, followed by Brad Corley's third hit of the game with an RBI single to right. Butler got catcher Craig Tatum to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, scoring Rea, before striking out LaNinfa to earn his first save of the season. LaNinfa went 0-for-5 on the afternoon, striking out all five times.
USC held a 4-0 lead early in the game. Catcher Jeff Clement doubled to right center, advanced to third on a passed ball charged to Tatum and scored on a groundout by left fielder Baron Frost. The Trojans added two more in the third, thanks to a balk charged against MSU starter Jamie Gant to score Billy Hart. Shortstop Blake Sharpe scored on an check swing double by Joey Metropoulos and USC scored once more in the fourth on an RBI single by Estrella.
Hart and Moon had two hits each for the Trojans, which gave Gant (2-1) his first loss of the season. Gant went eight innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.
The Bulldogs chipped away with RBI singles by Tatum in the fifth and Corley in the seventh.
Moon's key RBI double in the ninth with two outs proved to be a necessary run, scoring designated hitter Jon Brewster.
Both teams will continue with a 2 p.m. (Central) start time tomorrow and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Sunday's game time will be moved to 3 p.m. if the Mississippi State men's basketball team advances to the championship game at this weekend's SEC Tournament in Atlanta. Both games will be broadcast live on usctrojans.com.
USC 012-100-001 - 5-10-1MSU 000-010-102 - 4-9-0
WP - Kennedy (3-0) LP - Gant (2-1) S - Butler (1)Kennedy, Wentworth (7), Rummonds (9), Butler (9) and Clement.Gant, Doolittle (9) and Tatum.T - 2:51 ATT - 6,102 (paid) 2,107 (actual)
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