STARKVILLE, Miss. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - Pitching and playing good defense will keep you in a lot of games. Hitting three home runs will help you win a lot of games, as well. Combine those two coach-isms and you have the recipe that the No. 9 Mississippi State baseball program used in its 8-1 victory over No. 21 Southern Miss on Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
Junior Dustin Skelton posted the first multi-home run game of his career with two home runs and sophomore Justin Foscue added his second home run of the season to lead the offense. Both Foscue and Skelton had three-hit days, while seniors Marshall Gilbert and Jake Mangum each chipped in a pair of hits to pace the 13-hit attack for the Maroon and White.
On the other side of things, Mississippi State rode the right arm of freshman JT Ginn through the first seven innings. Ginn's outing included a career-high nine strikeouts, just one walk and two hits allowed. He improved to 2-0 on the year and hasn't allowed a run over his last 11 innings of work.
State opened the scoring with four runs in the second inning, with Foscue leading off the frame with a solo home run to right field. Six of the next seven batters reached base for MSU, including three-straight RBI singles by Jake Mangum, Jordan Westburg and Tanner Allen.
Skelton drove in the next three runs with a two-run home run in the fifth and a solo shot in the seventh, before Mangum created the Bulldogs' final run in the eighth inning.
Southern Miss got its lone tally on a Will McGillis RBI single in the eighth inning, which followed a one-out triple by Gabe Montenegro.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On evening the series
"It's huge. It's a weekend series against a top 20 opponent, an in-state opponent and for us, we just want to play well tomorrow. I know it's very coach speak, but [it is important] for us to be able to come out and play good baseball. They were pissed last night and so was I. But, its baseball and the good thing about [our sport] is we get to come out and play 24 hours later. I thought they responded well, and I'm sure Southern Miss will be ready to play tomorrow. It's going to be a really good game."
Freshman JT Ginn
On if there were as many nerves in the second start of his career
"You are always going to have a little bit of nerves, but it was fun. I got in a rhythm out there and when my defense is playing [well] like that, it's a lot easier to make the pitches."
Junior Dustin Skelton
On his approach at the plate today
"The first one I hit a fastball away and then my second one [home run] was a fastball down the middle…I'm trying to see the ball out of the pitcher's hand. I know the earlier I can see it, the better chance I have to hit it."
JT Ginn – Fanned a career-best nine hitters in a career-high seven innings of work to improve to 2-0 on the season. Allowed two hits, walked one and hit a batter.
Dustin Skelton – Posted his third multi-hit game of the season and first career multi-home run game with three hits – two of which left the yard. Drove in three RBIs and scored three runs in the game.
Justin Foscue – Notched his second multi-hit game of the season with three hits. Drove in one run and scored twice.
Jake Mangum – Reached base three times – two hits and a walk – and scored two runs. Added one RBI and a stolen base.
Getting into the Bullpen – Southern Miss used nine different pitchers in the game, as MSU scored off of three of those arms. No Golden Eagle hurler recorded more than five outs.
Will McGillis – Entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning and drove in USM's lone run of the game with an RBI single in the eighth.
Gabe Montenegro – Posted a pair of hits, including an eighth inning triple. Came around to score the Golden Eagles' lone run of the game.
Justin Foscue opened the scoring with a solo home run to left field off of Southern Miss starting pitcher Stevie Powers. Dustin Skelton followed with a single and eventually came around to score on a Jake Mangum base hit with two outs in the inning. Jordan Westburg followed with a base hit of his own, scoring Gunner Halter, who had reached on a fielder's choice. Tanner Allen plated the final run of the inning with a single through the right side, scoring Mangum.
Mississippi State 4, Southern Miss 0
Foscue and Skelton accounted for the offense again in the fifth inning, with Foscue leading off the frame with a base hit. Skelton followed with a 402-foot two-run home run to center field.
Mississippi State 6, Southern Miss 0
Skelton's second home run of the day went to left field to lead off the seventh inning and extend the MSU lead.
Mississippi State 7, Southern Miss 0
Southern Miss got on the board in the eighth when Gabe Montenegro tripled down the right-field line and came around to score on a Will McGillis single.
Mississippi State 7, Southern Miss 1
Mangum walked to start the frame and moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt with one out. He came in to score on an Allen RBI ground out.
Mississippi State 8, Southern Miss 1
The rubber game of the series is slated for Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m., with each Sunday being Kids Run the Bases, presented by LeBonheur, weather permitting.