May 27, 2001
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Mississippi State redshirt freshman Matthew Brinson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2001 NCAA Columbus Regional following his second two-homerun outing in as many games Sunday. The No. 1-seeded Bulldogs (39-22) captured the regional title, defeating the No. 4 seed Kent State University Golden Flashes, 14-4, in front of 1,042 at Ohio State’s Bill Davis Stadium.
MSU will advance to the Super Regional to take on the winner of the Fullerton, Calif., Regional, while Kent State finished the 2001 season 32-30 overall.
Bulldog starter Jeff Hunter pitched a solid 5.1 innings for the win. Hunter surrendered five hits, four runs (all earned), struck out seven and walked two. Gus Hlebovy had the start and the loss for Kent State, pitching one inning and scattering nine hits, giving up 10 runs (eight earned) and walking two.
After retiring the top of the Kent State order in the first inning, Mississippi State took a commanding 9-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The Bulldog offense had its biggest single inning of the season, scoring nine runs on eight hits and two Kent State miscues. Second baseman Michael Brown got things rolling for the Bulldogs with his single to left field. He then advanced to second on a throwing error by Golden Flashes catcher Pat O’Brien. Jason Burkley’s single put runners on first and third and Brown then scored on Josh West’s basehit. First baseman Brinson followed with a stand-up double to score Buckley. West scored on a throwing error by Kent shortstop Chris Detweiler that put runners on second and third. Hlebovy walked Steve Gendron. Matthew Mansicalco then smacked a one-out, three-run double over the glove of the Kent centerfielder and Casey Long followed with a basehit to advance Maniscalco to third. Brown hit his second basehit of the inning and scored Maniscalco and rightfielder Phillip Willingham’s single scored Long. Brown made it 9-0 when he crossed the plate on a pass ball.
Brinson hit his third homerun in two games in the bottom of the second to give the Bulldogs a 10-run advantage over the Flashes. His solo shot went over the right-field wall and was his sixth round-tripper of the season.
Kent State got on the board in the top of the fourth. Tom Martin’s double sailed over the glove of the MSU rightfielder. He then scored on third baseman Phil Locacio’s two-out single to right-center field.
The Bulldogs added three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Flashes reliever Kyle Augsburger walked two-consecutive MSU batters. Brinson and Enrico Jones advanced to second and third on a sacrifice fly by Gendron. Long then hit a three-run homerun, his fifth of the season to clear the bases and put MSU on top, 13-1.
In the top of the fifth, Kent State designated hitter Brady Glass knocked his fourth homerun of the regional tournament over the left-field wall off a 2-1 Jeff Hunter offering.
LoCascio drove in his second run of the game and scored one for Kent State in the top of the sixth. Dave Mattle was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a Hunter balk. Mattle then scored on LoCascio’s stand-up triple to center. LoCascio scored on a fielder’s choice when Pat O’Brien grounded out to the MSU shortstop.
In the bottom of the eighth, Brinson nailed his second homerun of the game and fourth of the tournament off a 1-0 Scott Boozer pitch. Through three games in three days and in 12 at bats, Brinson collected eight hits, eight runs, four homeruns and 23 total bases.
Mississippi State head coach Pat McMahon
“What a great effort by our guys. We pitched well, and that started with (Jeff) Hunter. The key to the game was the great production we had early. I have a lot of respect for Kent State. They were one of the best offensive ballclubs we’ve seen all year.”
Kent head coach Rick Rembielak
“Obviously we got behind the eight-ball too early today. The momentum was not in our corner from the get-go. Hunter threw all right, his breaking ball kept us off stride. After the first inning, we talked about taking it one pitch at a time. That was the basic philosophy we had to use to get back in the ball game.”