May 1, 2011
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State scored six runs in its last two at-bats, including a four-run eighth inning, to defeat Alabama 8-5 on Sunday afternoon from Polk-DeMent Stadium and salvage the final game of the series. With the loss, Alabama falls to 28-19 overall and 10-11 in SEC play, while the Bulldogs improve to 25-18 overall and 8-13 in conference action.
With the Crimson Tide leading 5-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth, MSU scored four runs on four hits with one Alabama error in the inning. The big blow came when Cody Freeman hit a two-run home run off Josh Rosecrans to give the Bulldogs a 7-5 lead, their first of the game. A double and a single followed and with runners on the corners a wild pitch allowed the final Bulldogs run to cross.
"This was one of the few games this year that our defense let us down, especially in the back end of the game," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "For the most part we have done a good job when we have been in position to wins game late, but today we really broke down in the end and allowed them to have the big eighth inning. We kind of let this one slip away from us."
In the ninth inning, Alabama got two runners aboard and had the tying run at the plate twice, but a deep fly to right and a strike out ended the hopes of a comeback. Caleb Reed got the final two outs of the game to record his eighth save of the season.
Adam Windsor took the loss for UA, dropping to 3-1 for the year, throwing 1.0 inning in relief allowing two runs (one earned) on one hit. In relief of MSU starting pitcher Kendall Graveman, Evan Mitchell got the win to improve to 4-1 on the year. Mitchell threw 3.2 innings, allowing one run on two hits with two strikeouts and five walks.
Jared Reaves was 1-for-3 with a walk, three RBI and a run scored, and hit his second home run of the season in the first inning. Brock Bennett was 2-for-4 with a walk and finished the series going 7-for-13 for the series. Austen Smith was also 2-for-4 with a pair of singles in the game. The Tide finished the day with 10 hits and had at least 10 hits in all three games of the series.
"Any time you go on the road in the SEC and win two out of three, especially this particular weekend considering the conditions, it's a good week," Gaspard said. "I'm really proud of our team. They competed extremely hard all weekend and put us right back in the thick of the race in the West."
Mississippi State had 13 hits on the day, as five players had at least two hits. Highlighting the Bulldogs was the 2-for-4 day by Brent Brownlee, who had two RBI and a home run. Cody Freeman and Nick Vickerson were 3-for-5 in the game.
After Taylor Dugas walked and Brock Bennett singled to open the game, Reaves belted a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence for his second home run of the year. The dinger for Reaves was his first in 41 games when the junior shortstop hit his first career home run against South Alabama in game six of the season.
MSU cut the Alabama lead to 3-2 when Brownlee homered to left with a runner on in the bottom of the second.
Alabama got one of the runs back in the fourth on a RBI double by Brett Booth to the right-center gap, scoring Hunter Gregory from first. UA threatened to score more in the inning, but with runners on the corners Booth was thrown out at home trying to score on a safety squeeze by Josh Sanders.
The Bulldogs loaded the bases in the fourth inning with no outs, but a 5-2-3 double play and a pop up to the catcher prevented a run from crossing the plate.
Alabama regained its three-run advantage when Bennett singled to center field in the sixth inning, scoring Sanders from third to make the score 5-2. Dugas was thrown out at home on the play as he tried to score from second.
Mississippi State got within a run at 5-4, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh. With the bases loaded and one out, the first run scored on a sac fly, but an error by the UA right fielder allowed the runners to move up. An infield groundout plated the second run of the inning, pulling the Bulldogs within one run for the second time in the game.
Alabama returns to the field on Friday, May 6 when it hosts LSU for game one of a three-game Southeastern Conference series, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. CT from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Game two will also be at 6:35 p.m. and will be televised on CSS, and the series wraps up on Sunday with a 1:05 start.