Ninth-Inning Rally Falls Short in 11-9 Loss
March 28, 2007
STARKVILLE, Miss. -
Memphis (14-11) 000 310 005 - 9 13 0 Mississippi State (16-6) 150 000 05X - 11 14 1
Memphis scored five runs in the top of the ninth, but the rally fell just short in an 11-9 loss at Mississippi State Wednesday night. The Bulldogs clinch a season sweep of the Tigers with the win. Memphis has now dropped five in a row and falls to 14-11 on the year.
For the second consecutive contest, Mississippi State got on the board in the first inning. Brandon Turner drew a one-out walk, stole second and then scored the game's first run on a double to the right field corner by Mitch Moreland.
State used five singles to expanded its lead to 6-0 in the second. Joseph McCaskill, who produced the game-winning hit on Tuesday night, drew a leadoff walk to ignite a string of three straight singles by Connor Powers, Andy Rice and Mark Goforth. Rice's and Goforth's hits plated McCaskill and Powers, respectively. An RBI-single by Turner made it 4-0 and chased Tiger starter freshman Dylan Cupples. Edward Easley greeted Tiger reliever Brennon Martin with a run-scoring single through the left side for a commanding 5-0 advantage. Brian LaNinfa capped the inning with a bases loaded walk to put the Bulldogs ahead 6-0.
While MSU accumulated runs, starter Jesse Carver carved up the Memphis offense, tossing three innings of no-hit ball in his first career start, before Kyle Norrid broke up the both the no-hit and shutout bids with a towering blast over the left field wall. The home run was Norrid's second of the year. The Tiger offense promptly jumped on Carver, as Michael Murray singled up the middle and Adam Amar was hit by a pitch in consecutive offerings. Southaven High products Alex Fennell and K.K. Chalmers then cut the deficit to three runs, 6-3, with back-to-back two out singles. Murray`s single extended his career-long hit streak to 11 games.
Memphis continued to chip away at the Mississippi State lead in the fifth when Joey Lieberman lined a Greg Houston offering into the left field stands to make it 6-4.
The Bulldogs threatened in the sixth when LaNinfa followed a single by Moreland with one of his own. Easley, who was on second when LaNinfa's single found its way through the right side, raced around to the plate, but rightfielder Ben Grisham made an accurate throw to the plate and Alex Fennell was able to apply the tag for the inning-ending out.
State put up five runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach 11-4. A two-out, two-run single from Moreland made it 8-4 and a three-run shot to left by Nick Hardy capped the scoring for the Bulldogs.
Memphis staged a comeback in the ninth that was ignited by a double to center by Chalmers. He scored on a sac fly to right field by Will Petersen and the rally had begun. Bill Moss reached on an infield single and Lieberman was then walked. Murray dove in Moss with a single and Eric Farrell's double scored both Lieberman and Murray to close the gap to 11-8. Chris Kirkland plated Farrell with a single just out of the reach of a leaping Jet Butler at second base to make it 11-9, but that would be the final run the Tigers offense was able to produce as MSU centerfielder Nick Hardy was able to track down a drive to the leftcenter gap by Chalmers' for the final out of the game.
Brennon Martin was effective in 4.2 innings of relief. The southpaw held the Bulldogs scoreless and scattered five hits to go with a pair of strikeouts.
Lalor earned the win after inheriting a two-run lead in the sixth. He struck out three in a pair of scoreless innings of relief. Ricky Bowen closed the game out to pick up the save.
Dylan Cupples was tagged with the loss. The freshman was tagged for six earned runs on five hits in just 1.1 innings.
The Tiger offense was paced by Murray, who went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Chalmers and Farrell had two hits each.
Turner and Moreland led MSU with three hits a piece.
Memphis will return home for its first Conference USA home series of the year-a three-game set versus Southern Miss on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. First pitch for the series opener is set for 6:30 p.m. at Nat Buring Stadium.