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No. 15 Mississippi State Downs Baseball, 3-2
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/11/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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            STARKVILLE, Miss. ?- No. 15-ranked Mississippi State took advantage of three walks and a fielding error to score the go-ahead run without a hit in the fifth inning, and Arizona stranded the tying run at second in both the eighth and ninth innings, as the Bulldogs defeated the Wildcats 3-2 at Dudy Noble Field on Friday.

 

            The three-game series opening loss dropped Arizona to 10-6 on the year, while Mississippi State remained unbeaten at 9-0.

 

            Tied 2-2 after four and half innings, UA starter Eric Berger issued back-to-back walks to Edward Easley and Thomas Berkery to lead off the bottom of the fifth. After strike outs by Brad Jones and Joseph McCaskill, the UA southpaw compounded his troubles and loaded the bases with the third free pass of the frame, this one to Joseph Hunter.

 

            MSU’s Andy Rice put the only ball in play in the inning in the next at-bat, a potential inning-ending grounder to short, but junior Jason Donald misplayed the ball for the only error in the game, allowing Rice to reach base, Easley to score and hand the Bulldogs a 3-2 advantage. Berger ended the inning by striking out Michael Rutledge, his third punchout in the frame.

 

            Arizona had an opportunity to even the score in the eighth and ninth innings but came up short in both cases.

 

Colt Sebrook singled to left with two outs in the eighth and advanced to second on a wild pitch. However, MSU closer Brett Cleveland entered in place of starter Brooks Dunn, and struck out Donald looking to end the inning and the Wildcats’ threat.

 

In the ninth, Brad Glenn and Konrad Schmidt posted back-to-back one-out singles to place runners on first and second, but Cleveland got T.J. Steele to hit into a game ending 6-4-3 double play to pick up his second save of the season.

 

MSU’s Dunn recorded his third win of the year on the mound, limiting the Wildcats to just two runs on four hits over 7 2/3 innings. The left-hander struck out five and walked two on the night

 

            Berger (3-3), who went deep in the count against nearly every batter, was charged with the loss after giving up three runs, two earned, on five hits in 5 1/3 innings of work. He struck out a career-high 11 hitters, but also walked five.

           

            Sophomore David Coulon was a bright spot on the mound for the Wildcats, holding the Bulldogs scoreless over the final 2 2/3 innings. He gave up just one hit and finished with three strikeouts and no walks.  

 

Freshman Steele provided the offensive punch for Arizona. The UA outfielder drove home a run with a two-out single in the second to put the Wildcats up 1-0, and scored UA’s second run after tripling to lead off the fifth, and coming home on a sac bunt by Hunter Pace. Steele finished the game 2 for 4, with his team-leading fourth triple of the year.

 

Trailing 1-0 after Steele’s single in the second, Mississippi State pulled ahead with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Butts and a two-out single by Jeffery Rae.

 

Arizona and Mississippi State will meet up for game two of the three-game set on Saturday at 1 p.m. MST. Freshman right-hander Preston Guilmet is the scheduled starter for the Wildcats.

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