BY GREGG ELLIS
STARKVILLE – Georgia came to Dudy Noble Field as the hottest team in the Southeastern Conference, a distinction that didn't change Friday night.
In front of a crowd of 2,505 fans, the No. 19-ranked Bulldogs extended their winning streak to 10 games after holding on to claim a 7-6 victory against Mississippi State.
But the win was far from easy for Georgia, which improved to 31-15 overall and 13-9 in league play.
Despite spotting the Dawgs a 7-1 lead through six innings, MSU plated five in the seventh to close the gap to 7-6.
However, that would be as close as the homestanding Bulldogs would get as they dropped their fifth-straight SEC game to fall to 28-19, 8-16.
Game 2 of the three-game set is scheduled for 4 p.m. today.
“This conference is tough. We have eight more games, and we still have opportunities in front of us,” MSU coach Ron Polk said. “There's no quit in this ball club.
“I'm not pressing. But I see the (the players) pressing because they want to do well.”
Mississippi State, on the verge of not qualifying for the SEC Tournament for the first time in 17 years, out-hit Georgia 11-9. But as the case has been for most of the year, it was the timely hits that failed to surface.
State, which stranded 11 base runners, did jump out to a 1-0 lead on Brad Corley's home run in the first, his league-leading 16th of the year.
But Georgia totaled seven unanswered runs, two coming off a Justin Holmes homer in the third, to stake a 7-1 lead.
But in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, State exploded for five runs, two resulting from a two-run single by Joseph Hunter, to pull within one.
“We swung the bats and got key hits in the seventh, but we just couldn't finish it,” said Corley, who was 3-for-5. “We're kind of pressing right now. We have to win. It's do or die. It's hard to come out and have fun when you're pressed.
“Every game is huge for us. We look at it as we have to win six out of these last eight (to qualify for the SEC Tournament).”
State did have two on in the ninth after Tyler Scarbrough reached on a single and Thomas Berkery walked, but Joseph Hunter struck out looking to thwart any comeback hopes.
That pitch was delivered by Mitchell Boggs, who earned his first save of the year. Starter Sean Ruthven collected the win to improve to 5-1.
In 5.0 innings, he scattered five hits, allowed just one run while striking out five and walking three.
Alan Johnson (3-3) was charged with the loss. He gave up seven runs, all earned, on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings on the mound.
“We had great pitching. We played great defense and we had timely hits,” UGA coach David Perno said. “When you get all three, good things usually happen.”
With two hits, Gendron moved past Brad Henderson for the 18th most hits in SEC history with 299. … Jeffrey Rea ended a 0-for-16 slump with a single in the third, his only hit. … MSU is now tied for last place in the Western Division with Alabama and 10th overall.
Georgia, Mississippi State
WP: Sean Ruthven (5-1). LP: Alan Johnson (3-3). S: Mitchell Boggs (1).
Multiple hits:(MSU) Brad Corley 3, Steve Gendron, Thomas Berkery. (UGA) Justin Holmes 3, Jonathan Wyatt, Josh Smith. 2B: (MSU) Brad Jones, Gendron. (UGA) Josh Morris. HR: (MSU) Brad Corley. (UGA) Holmes. LOB: (MSU) 11. (UGA) 7. DP: (UGA) 1. T: 2:56. A: 2,505.
Record: Mississippi State 28-19, 8-14. Georgia 31-15, 13-9.
Note: Game 2 is slated for 4 p.m. today, with MSU's Jeff Lacher ( 3-5, 4.28) set to face Michael Hyle (4-1, 2.81).