March 12, 2009
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- There was nothing like a little bit of rest Wednesday night to rejuvenate Mississippi State junior baseball players Connor Powers and Russ Sneed.
Powers and Sneed combined to go 3-for-3 after coming into the second game of a doubleheader against Valparaiso to help MSU rally for a 5-4 victory at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs also won the first game 9-2.
Powers'' double scored Luke Adkins and Mark Goforth with the tying runs in the eighth inning. Sneed doubled and scored the winning run in the ninth on a hard hit ground ball in the bottom of the ninth inning by Adkins.
The Bulldogs (10-4) trailed 4-0 before rallying against pitchers Alex Berry, Steve Godawa, and loser Jarad Miller (0-1).
Berry had a shutout through seven innings and Sneed knew a pinch-hitting opportunity was likely so he tried to pay attention.
"Their pitcher did a great job and got into a rhythm," said Sneed, who also had a single. "We were hitting some baseballs hard but right at them. We play so many different lineups that everyone gets a chance."
Concerned about a long road trip to Hawaii, getting back early Tuesday, and playing a day-night doubleheader against Valparaiso before opening Southeastern Conference play against South Carolina this weekend, MSU coach John Cohen was just looking for an opportunity to give some Bulldogs a break.
Cohen gave Frank Rawdow a start at second base and Jarrod Parks his first career start at first base, but neither could generate offense, so Sneed and Powers replaced them.
"I thought those guys would embrace the opportunity and they just didn''t play as well as I wanted them to," Cohen said. "The kids are tired, and we had a great practice (Tuesday). We were putting them through it, we''re trying to get there and get their biological clock back in the right direction.
"I felt like giving some guys an off game in the second game. I think it helped them have better at-bats. They had big at-bats late in the game, obviously Sneed, Connor, among others. It was good for us to come back. We''re not going to quit."
The Bulldogs started the eighth inning with consecutive singles by Sneed, Ryan Collins, and Adkins. Adkins drove home Sneed with a single, while Collins scored on a wild pitch.
After Goforth walked, Powers doubled to the base of the fence in right to score Adkins and Goforth.
Powers thought he had a home run, but was satisfied with the result.
"I love the opportunity," Powers said. "It''s a great feeling to get some runs scored. I was hoping it was going to go out. It was awesome to get a win."
MSU had seven hits after getting only two (a single each by Adkins and Jet Butler) through the seven.
Pitcher Jared Wesson also took advantage of an opportunity. Making his first appearance of the season and eighth of his career, Wesson (1-0) struck out the side around giving up a hit in the ninth to get the win.
"We used quite a bit of arms in Hawaii, so I knew I was definitely throwing," Wesson said. "I just didn''t know which game."
Wesson followed starter David Hayes and Drew Hollinghead to the mound.
MSU''s series with South Carolina starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
In the first game, Butler tied a school record with three doubles and the Bulldogs had 11 hits to back Ricky Bowen and Lee Swindle.
MSU trailed 1-0 in the first before scoring four runs to take the lead. It added three more runs in the second to expand the margin to 7-1.
Bowen went five innings to win his first decision of the season. He gave up both runs (earned) on four hits, struck out six and walked three.
Swindle, of Eupora, gave up three hits in four innings for his first save.
Butler also had a single, while Scott DeLoach doubled and singled, Ryan Collins tripled, and Jason Nappi had two singles.