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April 20, 2003

Box Score

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Eighth inning doubles by Jon Mungle and Matthew Brinson broke a 1-1 tie Sunday and Mississippi State edged South Carolina 2-1 to salvage the final game of a weekend Southeastern Conference baseball series.

Todd Nicholas, 4-1, with bullpen help from three relievers, won a pitcher’s duel from South Carolina’s Chris Hernandez, 2-3, who pitched a complete game and absorbed the loss. Mississippi State improved to 28-9-1 overall and 11-6 in the SEC. South Carolina dropped to 25-15, 9-9 but held on to first place in the Eastern Division of the SEC.

Each of the three games in the series was decided by one run. South Carolina won the first game 4-3 and the second 2-1 to take the series two games to one.

Mungle doubled with one out in the eighth inning. After Steve Gendron grounded to third for the second out Brinson hit a hard ground ball just inside the third base bag for a double that scored Mungle with the go ahead run.

Nicholas had allowed South Carolina just three hits, two of them by Brian Buscher, but when he walked Steven Tolleson leading off the bottom of the eighth Coach Ron Polk relieved Nicholas with Sanders Ramsey.

Justin Harris bunted Tolleson to second and Buscher flied to center for the second out. Landon Powell was walked intentionally and Polk replaced Ramsey with left-hander Brian Owens. South Carolina coach Ray Tanner countered with pinch hitter Demetric Smith but he struck out to end the threat.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth inning for Mississippi State and gave up a two out double to pinch hitter Matt Riddle. Papelbon retired Kevin Melillo on a fly to right field to end the game. Papelbon earned his fourth save.

Mississippi State took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Brinson beat out an infield hit and Craig Tatum walked. Brinson moved to third as Brent Lewis hit into a double play. Brad Corley singled to drive in Brinson.

Buscher tripled to lead off the South Carolina fourth inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Powell to tie the score.

Hernandez pitched out of potential jams in the fifth and seventh innings. In the fifth Jeff Butts tripled with one out but Hernandez retired the next two batters. In the seventh Corley doubled with one out but Hernandez again retired the next two.

Mississippi State had seven hits, two each by Brinson, Corley and Butts. Buscher had half of South Carolina’s four hits. South Carolina shortstop Harris had his consecutive game hitting streak halted at 17.

Nicholas struck out seven and walked four in seven plus innings. Hernandez walked two and struck out six.