Originally created 06/05/06

Bulldogs get shot at Tigers with win



CLEMSON, S.C. - Brian LaNinfa had four more RBI and left-hander Justin Pigott shut down Elon in a 12-3 victory that kept Mississippi State in the NCAA Tournament and eliminated the Phoenix on Sunday.

The Bulldogs (37-22) now must beat NCAA top-seeded Clemson in two consecutive games at Doug Kingsmore Stadium - something that's happened just once this season - to advance to their first super regional in five years.

The teams' late game Sunday was delayed almost 2 hours by rain from its 7 p.m. start.

LaNinfa's hot bat and Pigott's command made sure Mississippi State got that chance.

LaNinfa drove in all five runs in Mississippi State's 5-4 victory over UNC Asheville in Saturday's elimination game. He showed the same power in this one.

His second-inning single brought in two runs and put the Bulldogs up 6-0.

After Elon (45-18) cut the lead to 6-3, LaNinfa homered off the roof of Clemson's batting cage facility in right field to put the game out of reach.

Pigott, who got the final five outs in the UNC Asheville win Saturday, looked as strong as if he had five days rest. He retired the first six Elon batters before giving up four consecutive hits that accounted for all the Phoenix's scoring in the third. Then Pigott was his early self again, retiring Elon's 2-3-4 hitters to get out of the jam.

Pigott (7-1) did not give up another hit until Ryan Radford's pinch-hit double in the seventh. Pigott finished with seven strikeouts and no walks.

Jeffrey Rea went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored for the Bulldogs. Every starter had a hit in Mississippi State's 16-hit attack except left-fielder Jeff Butts, who walked twice and scored both times.

The loss ended an up-and-down regional for the second-seeded Phoenix.

Elon defeated Mississippi State on Friday for the program's first NCAA Tournament victory.

But for the second game in a row, the Phoenix fell into a hole and they couldn't climb out.