April 30, 2011
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Alabama baseball team completed a Southeastern Conference doubleheader road sweep at Mississippi State with a 5-4 win in the night cap on Saturday from Dudy Noble Field. The Crimson Tide snapped a five-game Southeastern Conference losing streak with a 5-4 win in 10 innings in game one of the day.
The Tide improves to 28-18 overall and moves into a share of the lead in the SEC Western Division with a 10-10 record. Mississippi State drops to 26-18 overall and 7-13 in SEC play. Brett Whitaker hit a pinch-hit leadoff home run in the top of the 10th inning to lift the Tide to the win in game one. With the sweep on Saturday, Alabama has won nine straight games and six consecutive series against the Bulldogs.
"I'm really proud of our team," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "After all of the things we've had to go through this week and to come back and gut-out a couple wins just really shows the character of this team."
Trey Pilkington picked up the win in game two for Alabama, throwing 1.0 innings, allowing a run on two hits. Jonathan Smart picked up his eighth save of the season, throwing a scoreless ninth inning. Luis Pollorena did not record an out in the eighth inning and took the loss for the Bulldogs, dropping to 5-3 on the year. UA starting pitcher Adam Morgan did not factor into the decision, but had a quality start, throwing 6.0 innings, giving up three runs on five hits with four strikeouts.
The Crimson Tide had 10 hits in the game, as Brock Bennett led the way with a 3-for-4 effort in the night cap. Bennett also added an RBI and a scored a run. Taylor Dugas was 2-for-4 with a run scored and Brett Booth and Jared Reaves had one hit and one RBI each.
"We had a lot of individual efforts where guys performed really well, but the highlight of the day was just how well our guys continued to compete throughout the afternoon," Gaspard said.
MSU had nine hits in game two and was paced offensively in game two by Nick Vickerson, who was 2-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored.
Mississippi State took an early lead, scoring one run in the bottom of the first inning off Morgan. With two outs Jarrod Parks drew a walk and scored on a double to the left field corner by second baseman Nick Vickerson.
MSU threatened again in the third inning, but with runners in the corners, Morgan got Parks to ground out back to the mound, where Morgan got C.T. Bradford out at the plate. Then, with runners on second and third, Morgan struck out Vickerson to end the threat.
The Tide rallied for a pair of runs in the fourth inning to take a 2-1 lead. The first run for Alabama came on an RBI single up the middie by Brett Booth to score Andrew Miller. Booth took advantage of a couple MSU miscues on the play, as he advanced to second on the throw home and took an extra base thanks to an errant throw. He scored the run on a wild pitch by MSU starter Nick Routt to give the Tide a 2-1 lead.
UA threatened to add to its lead in the sixth inning, but with runners on second and third, a Dugas line drive down the third base line was snagged on a diving catch by the MSU third baseman to end the inning. Vickerson led off the sixth inning with a solo home run to left on a 1-2 pitch to tie the game at 2-2.
After the Tide took the lead at 3-2 with an unearned run in the seventh inning, MSU scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh on RBI singles off UA reliever Trey Pilkington to take a 4-3 advantage. With the base loaded and two out, UA second baseman Josh Sanders made a great diving play on a line drive up the middle by Ryan Collins to end the inning with no more damage done.
The Tide did not go away and answered with two runs of its own in the eighth inning. After Brandt Hendricks and Dugas were hit by pitches, two-out singles by Bennett and Reaves drove in the tying and go-ahead runs, respectively, putting Alabama ahead for good at 5-4.
Alabama and Mississippi State will complete the three-game Southeastern Conference action series on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CT, from Dudy Noble Field/Polk-DeMent Stadium. Starting pitchers for both teams have not been announced.