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Butler Walkoff Homer Lifts State Past North Florida In BankFirst Challenge Finale

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STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State’s Jet Butler hit a walk-off, three-run home run, lifting the Bulldogs to a 9-7 win over North Florida in the final game of the 2009 BankFirst Baseball Challenge Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

The last-inning dramatics lifted the Bulldogs to a 3-1 finish in the season-opening, three-day, three-team tournament held on the MSU campus. North Florida fell to 2-2 with the defeat.

The homestanding Bulldogs actually sprinted to a 3-0 lead in Sunday’s series finale. North Florida battled back with a lone run in the fourth inning and five more scores in the fifth inning. The big blow in the fifth inning was a grand slam by UNF first baseman Ryan Puskar.

For Puskar, it was his second grand slam of the day. In the opener, the Daytona Community College transfer hit a grand slam lifting the Ospreys to a 9-3 win over Northern Illinois. Puskar finished with nine RBIs for the day’s play.

MSU still trailed 7-5 entering its final at-bat in the ninth inning.

Connor Powers started things with a leadoff single. Russ Sneed then drew a walk. A fielder’s choice hit by Jarrod Parks advanced Powers and retired Sneed. Scott DeLoach followed with an RBI-single to center. Butler then hit his walk-off, with a first pitch easily clearing the right field fence.

The Bulldogs finished with eight hits. Russ Sneed had two hits and two RBIs.

The Ospreys finished with eight hits, as well. T.J. Thompson and Michael Smith joined Puskar as multiple hitters.

Drew Hollingshead (1-0) pitched the final two innings to earn the win. Hollinghead allowed one hit and no runs. Starting pitcher Tyler Whitney was chased during UNF’s big fifth inning. Michael Busby worked in middle relief for the Bulldogs.

Tucker Pryor (0-1) took the loss for the Ospreys. Pryor threw shutout baseball in the seventh and eighth innings before the MSU uprising in the ninth inning.

The Bulldogs resume their season-opening homestand with a Tuesday game against South Alabama and a Wednesday game with Mississippi Valley State. Both contests are scheduled for a 4 p.m. first pitch at Dudy Noble Field.

Jet Butler
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