Tide, MSU Split SEC Opening Twinbill

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Alabama baseball team split its doubleheader with Mississippi State on Saturday inside Dudy Noble Field. The Crimson Tide claimed a 10-5 victory in game one thanks to­­­ an eight-run eighth inning. The Tide would then come up short, 4-1 in the nightcap of the twinbill. Following today’s games, Alabama moves to 10-7 overall and 1-1 in conference play.

GAME ONE

With two down in the top of the eighth, four singles, a home run, two hit-by-pitch and two walks helped Alabama compile eight runs in the inning. The rally started with a J.C. Wilhite single and a Mikey White three-run homer highlighted the scoring for the Crimson Tide.

“Our guys continued to compete throughout the ballgame,” said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard. “(Taylor) Guilbeau grinded it out, and then the bullpen kept us in striking distance to get the win. We had the big inning in the eighth, where a lot of guys stepped up and contributed, and that collective effort to score runs was the key to the game.”

The Tide offense was led by White’s 3-for-4 day, with the junior also contributing three RBI and three runs scored. Wilhite added multiple hits as well, finishing 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. All 10 of Alabama’s runs came with two outs for the afternoon, and the Tide was able to overcome a season-high 12 walks allowed to claim the victory.

The Crimson Tide kicked off the scoring, putting up a two spot in the top of the fourth. A one-out single from White started the rally, and then a walk from Casey Hughston put two on. With two down, Wilhite came through with a single to left that plated White from second and moved Hughston up to take his spot. In the very next at-bat, Chance Vincent roped a liner to left-center field to add one more for the Tide and set the lead at 2-0.

Mississippi State worked the score back to even after scoring one apiece in the fourth and fifth innings. The Bulldogs would then add two in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a timely double with runners on second and third to go ahead 4-2.

Alabama did not sit by idly and would collect eight runs in the eighth frame. A two-out single from Wilhite started the rally, Vincent was hit by a pitch and then both players advanced a base on a passed ball. Will Haynie stepped in with two in scoring position and delivered a bloop single to left off the handle of his bat to score both runners. Riley Colburn walked and then Chandler Avant was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Georgie Salem. A single to center by Salem would add two more and force a pitching change. White would welcome the new pitcher with a three-run bomb to left field that gave Alabama its final three tallies of the night and set the score at 10-5, the eventual final.

GAME TWO

Alabama could not string together hits against Mississippi State’s starter Austin Sexton, who tossed a complete game for the Bulldogs. The Tide pitching staff issued seven walks in the contest that helped State collect four runs for the win.

UA’s offensive effort was led by Casey Hughston, who finished the night 1-for-4 with a solo home run and the team’s lone RBI. Eight of Alabama’s 10 batters recorded a hit on the evening, but no one was able to collect more than one in the game.

Mississippi State was first on the board in the nightcap, scoring two runs on two hits in the third frame. The Bulldogs started the inning with a single and a walk, then a double down the line in right added the first tally. Two batters later, a sacrifice fly to left field helped bring the second score across and end the inning at 2-0.

The Bulldogs would add one more in the next inning, using a leadoff single and a stolen base to get a runner in scoring position. The leadoff man would come to cross one batter later on a single to left-center field, setting the score at 3-0 through four innings of play.

Hughston used one swing of the bat to give Alabama its first run of the night in the Tide’s half of the sixth. The sophomore sent a laser liner over the right field wall, a solo shot, to set the score at 3-1. Alabama would get no closer, however, as Mississippi State would tack on one more run in the seventh and close out the game at 4-1.

“After today’s split, our guys have to keep focus and come out with the right mindset to give ourselves the opportunity to win the series tomorrow,” Gaspard added. “Any time you have a chance to win a series on the road in SEC play, you have to take advantage of it.”

Alabama and Mississippi State will meet for the rubber match on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. The Crimson Tide will throw sophomore righty Geoffrey Bramblett while the Bulldogs will counter with sophomore southpaw Vance Tatum.

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