Hearod's homers lead Bama over MSU

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The No. 4 ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team hit three home runs Friday night, including two solo home runs by junior designated hitter Beau Hearod, en route to a 9-5 win over Mississippi State Bulldogs at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Hearod gave Alabama a 1-0 lead in the third inning with a solo home run, breaking up Paul Maholm's no-hitter. The Jennings, La., native added his second home run of the game, a solo shot off Jeff Lacher in the seventh inning. Hearod has 10 home runs this season.

Hearod entered the game with no extra base hits since April 10 and no RBI in his last six games for Alabama. In addition, he had just two hits in his previous 16 at-bats entering the MSU series opener.

Senior centerfielder capped the scoring with a solo home run to left center field in the eighth inning off Lacher. It was McClanahan's ninth home run of the season.

In addition to the three solo home runs, Alabama also threw out three MSU base runners at the plate. McClanahan added to his school record with his 22nd career outfield assist in the second inning, throwing out DH Robby Goodson at the plate to end the second inning.

Left fielder Travis Garner added an outfield assist as he teamed with Adam Pavkovich to throw out Matthew Maniscalco at the plate to end the fifth inning. Goodson was thrown out at home again in the sixth inning as he tried to score from third base on a slow infield grounder off the bat of Maniscalco.

UA now has 12 outfield assists this season, including a league-leading eight by McClanahan.

Alabama (41-9, 18-7 SEC) built a 7-0 lead after four innings and held off an MSU rally in the middle innings for its 29th home win of the season. The Crimson Tide also maintains its half-game lead over South Carolina in the SEC Championship race. In the Western Division, Alabama maintains its 2 1/2 game lead over LSU (won at Florida, 5-4 in 10 innings) and increased its lead to four games over Ole Miss (lost 5-4 at home to Arkansas).

The Crimson Tide broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning, scoring four runs on three hits off MSU starter Paul Maholm. MSU also committed three errors which led to three unearned runs in the inning.

Hearod led off the inning with a solo home run to right field, giving Alabama a 1-0 lead. Grant Redding followed with a double off the left field wall and scored when Allen Rice reached on shortstop Matthew Maniscalco's error.

McClanahan reached on a fielder's choice, erasing Rice at second base. McClanahan then stole second base before Adam Pavkovich reached on third baseman Brent Lewis' error. After Peter Stonard flied out to left field, Jeremy Brown laced a double to left, scoring McClanahan and sending Pavkovich to third. Brent Boyd reached on a throwing error by MSU catcher Jason Burkley, allowing Pavkovich to scored from third with the third unearned run of the inning to give UA a 4-0 lead.

UA extended its lead to 7-0 by scoring three runs in the fourth inning to chase Maholm. Pavkovich's two-out, two run double scored Garner and Redding to give UA a 6-m lead. Stonard's RBI single scored Pavkovich to make it 7-0.

Maholm (8-3) lasted only 3 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs on six hits to the Crimson Tide. He added two walks and struck out one batter in throwing 77 pitches. He was charged with only four earned runs.

Miss. State (28-20-1, 11-13 SEC) got two of the runs back in the fifth inning and then knocked UA starter out of the game with three more runs in the sixth inning.

Matthew Brinson's two-run double in the fifth scored Robby Goodson and Jon Mungle as the Bulldogs cut the lead to 7-2. Maniscalco was thrown out at the plate to end the inning on a perfect relay throw from Garner in left field to Pavkovich, who fired a strike to Brown at the plate.

MSU scored three more runs in the sixth to chase Cormier and cut the lead to 7-5. The Bulldogs put the first five runners on base and scored the first run of the inning when Cormier balked home Gendron from third base. Goodson and Casey Long followed with back-to-back RBI singles, cutting the lead to 7-5.

Cormier (9-3), who failed to pitch seven innings for only the second time this season, left after five innings. He allowed five runs on eight hits, adding four walks and two strikeouts.

The Lafayette, La., native's strikeout of Chad Henry in the fifth inning made him the Crimson Tide's all-time strikeout leader with 275 career strikeouts. Mike Sodders (1985-88) held the previous record with 274 strikeouts.

Taylor Tankersley replaced Cormier after the base hit by Long and retired the Bulldogs without any further damage. Goodson, the third MSU runner thrown out at home, tried to score on Maniscalco's slow rolling ground ball to third base. Rice fired a strike to Brown, who survived a collision at the plate with Goodson and applied the tag. Brinson popped up to Pavkovich at short, leaving the bases loaded.

The freshman from Vicksburg, Miss., notched his fifth save of the season with four scoreless innings out of the pen. Tankersley has recorded a decision or save in his last 14 trips out of the pen for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama pushed its lead to 8-5 in the seventh inning on Hearod's second solo home run of the game. The Jennings, La., native last hit two home runs last year in a win over Vanderbilt.

McClanahan capped the scoring with a solo home run in the eighth inning to give UA a 9-5 lead.

The two teams continue their three-game series with a 4 p.m. (CT) game Saturday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Left-hander Jeffrey Norris (4-0, 2.60 ERA) will take the mound for Alabama, while MSU will send senior right-hander Tanner Brock (6-4, 4.39 ERA) to the hill.

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