Bama Can't Sweep State

Mississippi State picked up timely hits on Sunday and turned a two-run deficit into a 4-2 win in 11 innings, taking the final game of the series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium after Alabama won the first two.

A failed would-be inning-ending double play came back to haunt Alabama, yielding MSU's only two runs in regulation innings. Starting pitcher Tommy Hunter got leadoff man Jeffrey Rea to bounce back to the mound and Hunter threw to second to get the second out of the inning, but shortstop Greg Paiml's throw to first was errant.

"The game pretty much came down to the double play that didn't get turned," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said.

Brian LaNinfa scored from third on the play and Edward Easley followed up with an RBI single to tie the game.

Paiml was busy in the field all day with four putouts and five assists.

Alabama scored two runs in the second inning on a Ryan Rhoden bases-loaded single with no one out. Spencer Pennington was hosed at the plate on the ensuing play when trying to tag-up on a fly ball. The ball was hit medium deep to left field, but center fielder Joseph Hunter had the stronger arm, and he came over to take the play. Pennington was out by a few steps.

"It was a hard fought game and we didn't get guys in. Yesterday they didn't get guys in," Wells said.

Pennington was three for three at the plate and he reached second base four times in the game, but didn't score.

David Robertson came back for two and two third innings Sunday after throwing 66 pitches in relief to close out Saturday's game. Robertson took his second loss of the year when a two-out rally by the top of the Mississippi State lineup in the 11th produced the eventual winning runs.

"Robertson probably got a little gassed at the end, but what a workhorse," MSU Coach Ron Polk said.

Said Alabama Wells, "Yeah, he was (running out of gas), and if we had tied it up he probably wouldn't have gone back out."

Rea, who has scorched Alabama pitchers throughout his career, led off with a single and stole second base. He scored on Edward Easley's double to left center field past a diving Brandon Belcher's glove and Easley later scored Mitch Moreland's double to right center.

Alabama (22-8 overall, 7-2 SEC) finishes the week with a game and a half lead over State (21-3 overall, 5-3 SEC), who is in second place after taking two of three from MSU. In the SEC West, Alabama has a three-game lead on Arkansas and Ole Miss, a four-game lead over Auburn and a five game lead over LSU.

"To have beaten them two out of three is good," Wells said. "You want to win more and everybody wants us to win more."

Justin Piggott (2-0) pitched the final four innings for Mississippi State and allowed three hits in the winning performance. He struck out four Alabama hitters and didn't issue a walk.

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